Book Review: The Chain

As soon as I started reading “The Chain” by Robin Lamont, I could not put it down. The book is full of suspense and leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. I spent two back-to-back afternoons reading non-stop. Lamont hooked me right from the start with the opening chapter. The story begins with an employee from a meat-packing plant who was secretly documenting the awful conditions of the slaughterhouse and then mysteriously dies. The plot thickens from there and characters are brought to life, ranging from a teenage girl who discovers vegetarianism to an undercover animal rights investigator to the employees working in the plant.

“Jude Brannock, a seasoned and passionate animal welfare investigator, is drawn into the lives of a damaged family in a small town that depends on a meat packing plant for its survival. Jude has been summoned to Bragg Falls to meet with a whistleblower who has documented the dangerous conditions for workers and the brutal treatment of pigs about to be slaughtered at D&M Processing. But when she arrives, she finds that her contact has committed suicide and the video he made is gone. The deeper she probes, the more the town’s residents turn against her – afraid that an exposé will shut down the plant. But beyond the local resistance, there is a more sinister force that will do anything to hide what is happening behind the secretive doors of the slaughterhouse.”

I’ve always admired the real-life animal rights activists who go undercover to try to bring justice and freedom for the animals who are killed by humans for consumption. Although this book is fiction, Robin Lamont helped me gain a better understanding on what it’s like to live this kind of life. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lamont so delicately balanced the viewpoints of the meat-packing plant’s employees, shedding light on the human rights aspect of this type of industry. I was surprised with myself on how much sorrow I felt for the people working in the slaughterhouse. The meat industry is such a corrupt and greedy business, and this book showed that it’s usually the innocent who get trapped into this kind of life, being exploited just as much as the animals.

Robin Lamont was so kind to join the Colorado Springs Vegan Book Club last month via Skype. It was really incredible to have the chance to talk to her about the characters, the story, and her experience in writing the book. It was a very intimate group, so we were all able to ask her the questions that we were dying to learn more about. One specific question we asked her was about Caroline, the meat-packing employee’s rebellious teenage daughter who becomes vegetarian. I love how Robin described Caroline’s character as symbolizing the darkness in the truth of the meat industry. I related so much to this character, and I’m sure a lot of animal rights advocates do too. Much like Caroline, when I learned about the horrors of the factory farms and the constant exploitation of animals, it was hard to just stand by and do nothing. It became somewhat of my life mission to stand up for what’s right for these sentient beings, and that’s what Caroline’s character portrays. She shows the reader what’s it like to discover what’s behind the curtain of the meat industry.

We also asked Robin if she had any advice for animal rights advocates. She was very humble in her reply, not giving herself much credit as being an animal rights activist, which is far from the truth – her book is bringing awareness to the cruelty involved in factory farms to a mainstream audience. Robin did offer this guidance: just keep doing what you’re doing, whether it’s writing or whatnot, because everything – even the smallest act – is activism. I love that she put it this way because I think a lot of us in the animal rights movement can beat ourselves up, feeling like we’re not doing enough – I know I have done this before. Robin reminded me that we need to just do the best that we can, even if that simply means cooking a vegan meal for someone or having a conversation with others about animal exploitation. It all leads to something greater, which gives me hope for the animals.

Robin did mention that her next book should come out in the fall, and I CANNOT wait!!!! She said that Jude is still the main character, doing undercover work in the wildlife services, which includes topics such as the very controversial Ag-gag laws that keep popping up in the news lately. I know that this book will definitely be on our book club’s list once it’s released.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Chain

  1. Thanks for another great recommendation, the books you feature are always good so I will definitely be getting my hands on this one. And thanks also for sharing what the author said about doing what you can, even if it is only a small gesture. I’ve been feeling frustrated about this recently, but she is so right in what she says. I recently lent a friend my Forks Over Knives DVD and he told me yesterday that he found it a real eye opener and he and his wife have already cut their meat consumption by 75%. Thanks again 🙂

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      • Awesome!!! You won’t be disappointed! I’m thinking of loaning it to some omni folks because Lamont does a nice job with interweaving the fictional storyline with scenes from a meat-packing plant. It kind of is like how Fast Food Nation had an impact on me so then I watched Food Inc, and then I never went back to eating meat! Let me know what you think when you finish the book! Enjoy!

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