Review: The String by Caleb Breakey

The String (Deadly Games, #1) by Caleb Breakey
JD's Rating: 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks

The String is an impressive fiction debut. The plot is intricate, the characters are well-rounded, and it is a total thrill ride. A non-stop adrenaline rush from the first page to the very last!

A sociopath is running a deadly social experiment on a university campus. Markus Haas is the first to refuse to play the game. What unravels is a sequence of impossible decisions and a race against time to stop the sociopath before others pay the ultimate price.
Welcome to the string. Let's go over the ground rules.
Rule #1: Participation is mandatory.
Rule #2: If any one person refuses to play, the threats to all players will come to pass.
Since this is my game, allow me to introduce myself. I am the conductor. Just as musicians in a symphony must follow the conductor's direction, the selected students and staff of Trenton University must submit to my commands . . . or risk massive chaos and deadly consequences. Even that pesky university cop, Markus Haas, who thinks he'll find a way out of the impossible dilemma in which I've trapped him. Oh, the surprises I have for him.
Ready to play?

Whew! My goodness. I had to collect my thoughts for a moment after finishing this book! It's been quite some time since I've read such a nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat, "un-put-downable" thriller like this one. Fair warning: This is not for everyone as it's very violent. It's quite the bloodbath; frankly, I lost track of the body count. But that's sort of to be expected when you're dealing with a thriller centered around a psychopathic murderer.

Caleb Breakey
The plot is detailed, complex, and compelling. It is unveiled bit by bit and moves along at a good clip that keeps you turning pages. Our protagonist, Markus, is a well-developed and interesting character, as is his best friend Cody. They are both fully committed to taking down the antagonist, who calls themself The Conductor. Speaking of which, this villain is a truly chilling and creepy one. Almost to the point of supervillain status; very reminiscent of The Joker in many ways. The Conductor is a sinister marionette who uses blackmail, threats of violence and other tactics to force victims to do some pretty reprehensible things. And I found it interesting that Breakey does a sort of partial reveal of the villain early on rather than leaving them entirely behind the scenes until the end. I don't want to say much more so I don't spoil anything, but I just found it a nice touch that differentiates The String from other similar novels.

The book is clean, in that it contains no swearing or sexual content. Though there is one scene that depicts a fairly intimate embrace between two unmarried characters that some readers may be uncomfortable with. One of our major characters is a Christian but if you are expecting overt Christian themes, you won't find them here. This book is a thriller, first and foremost, and the mentions of faith are sparse and only there when they naturally fit into the characters' individual personalities.

I was completely engrossed in the story and thoroughly enjoyed this first effort from Caleb Breakey. Though the book does conclude at a natural stopping point, it's obvious that he left several threads dangling (see what I did there?) to continue the series. And you can bet that I'll be checking out Book 2 of the Deadly Games series when it comes out. Recommended for ages 18 and up due to the explicit descriptions of violence and some of the themes explored.

J.D. Sutter is the producer and host of the Bookworm Banquet podcast and editor of the blog. He is the founder of Porchlight Family Media, a network of quality audio programming and review websites based in Phoenix, AZ.

Disclosure: The publisher provided us with a free copy of this book for promotional purposes. A favorable review was not required. This post contains affiliate links.

J.D. Sutter

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