It’s the last day of June!
And it’s hump day!
And in celebration to the last book I squeezed into the first half of 2021, today’s post is a review that follows up on Monday’s spotlight for “We Are 100” by Nathan Timmel! A comedian, with some other previous books, this is his first fiction and I truly loved reading it! I mean, I was squealing when it ended.
And in true Esther fashion, I have a lot to say when I finish with books that dumps adrenaline and joy in my system.
|Summary||Writing and Writing Style|
|Overall Feeling||Final Thoughts|
|Chapter Length & Content||Review To-Go (Mini Review)|
Title: We Are 100
Author: Nathan Timmel
Publisher: Red Oak Press
Genre: Fiction, Thriller > Mystery, Police Procedural
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not influence my review and all opinions are fully my own.
CW/TW: Illness, death due to illness, sexism, death, murder, mentions of sexual abuse against children, mentions of rape, swear words, gun violence, mentions of racism
After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation.Then he meets Cassandra.She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high.As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan’s: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace… and that’s just the beginning.Will the FBI unearth Cassandra’s identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?
“‘In life, you’re either the fucker, or the fuckee. Which one do you want to be?’ Susan decided she did want to be either. She wanted to be a protector; she wanted to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. Which made this case all the more interesting. Here, the wolves were being attacked by the sheep. Fuckees had decided enough was enough, and they were pushing back against the fuckers.”
The main story and plot of “We Are 100” revolves around revenge that centers on grief. We’re not talking about bullied kid setting up the ultimate middle school, teen Hollywood-movie-worthy, humiliation revenge against the school queen bee. Here we’re talking much bigger. People like those in high bank positions, big pharma, corrupt cops, lawyers, and doctors who are doing or have done things that ought to get them at least some time in jail, but they’re rich. And we know rich people hardly ever actually end up in jail.
So now, the 100 are taking action. 100 strangers, lured in, their grief weaponized, to perform one big final act; murder-suicide actions that will use the targets as examples to the world; You’ve gotten away from the law, you boast, and now justice is here. They’re here to set an example to all the other corrupt and greedy individuals of high society. They can no longer hide behind connections and money. Anyone can be a target and the lesson from each death is that only you can paint that target board on your own back.
This book was a crazy from the beginning. I finished the first chapter, nearly throwing down the book and running off. It was sheer adrenaline. I read it once, gasped, processed blankly at the wall, and then went back and read the entire first chapter again just to feel that same bundle of emotions because holy shit what a way to GO OUT!
“The 1% were animals. Or, if not animals, maybe their wealth allowed them to act without care. They knew someone like Evan would tidy up after them.”
And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve got a website filled with photos that are blank, set to turn into videos per profile, within the hour of their deaths, explaining and confessing each of the 100’s deeds along with why they did it. Sure, there were a few deaths that were skimmed over, but towards the beginning, it was just death after death. Some of the murders were generic shootings and while others may be a tad bit more creative (very tall tower kind of creative). There was always something happening that left the team running around.
Now…two wrongs don’t make a right and honestly, the book addresses this. Sure, all of the victims pretty much deserved it (judges letting rapists go despite solid SOLID evidence, big pharma’s jacking up prices to unsurvivable amounts, pedophiles…) but like one of the characters mentioned, eventually even those who get away with the act (or played a part in why others got away with their acts) were going to be caught, it was just down to “matter of time.” However…for the entirety of the book, despite how much I loved the protagonist duo team (and the supporting team) I found myself cheering on the big bad hoping he could complete what he needed to do.
Gotta say. I was very satisfied by the end.
The pacing was pretty good. The start of this book came in and I was left in so much shock that I read the chapter twice and it’s not the only chapter I did so with. Things pick up and we’re left with the agents running around trying to gather clues because at this point, we don’t just have one serial killer, we have a highly intelligent leader (with the wherewithal to fund this operation) heading a bunch of common folks, under him, and with them all being strangers to one another, there’s no connection between them other than their collective grief stemming from being wronged by the high, rich and mighty people that were previously untouchable.
And then it all tapers off towards the middle where I was starting to get a little bored.
Heck, this gets noted in the book too. Agent Susan asks the rookie, Agent Michael, if this is what he thought it’d [FBI work] be like and he answers that he knew it wasn’t going to be like how Hollywood makes cops and FBI out to be. There’s no constant door busting, fighting, high speed chases, and fire fights. A lot of the work? It’s interviews, investigations, chatting with others, interrogating whose already been caught (with perhaps a bit of negotiation skills sprinkled on top), and the such. So to go from a high rush to a “Time to interview and investigate anonymous hotlines” was a nice way to break up the sections and pacing. I mean, if there was adrenaline in every chapter, there’d be a mountain of dead bodies! So, with a handful of cool down chapters in between, it really helps.
When you’re going through it, reading it at that moment, it can get a bit slow; a little bit like when the rollercoaster suddenly stalls with a hisssss either at the bottom or peak of the ride. But when you’re all done, you appreciate that it gets a little boring in the middle, because it gives Susan and Michael a breather and that means it gives you, the reader, a breather. It spaces things out nicely and I liked it like that.
Chapter Length & Content
Not usually something I comment on, but I will say…with the average chapters (that I read) anywhere from 20-50 pages, these chapters fall a short on that mark and oh my god am I relieved. Sure, some chapters are like 5 pages but do you know how accomplishing it feels to say “I hammered through like 10 chapters today 😎”? It’s also easy to digest each chapter so that you’re summarized and processed by the time you hit the first line of the next one.
And they had TITLES!
Oh, how I’ve missed chapter titles…
I haven’t seen chapter titles in a while because I tend to read relatively the same books by the same authors who don’t use them and sure, a lot of the titles are short or very to-the-point like “Michael’s Moment”, but I love chapter titles because it gives you that 2 micro-seconds of a glimpse into the chapter.
The only single thing I was kind of disappointed in was that all the individual baddies and villains had their little chapters. There are chapters that explains their history and reason why they’re out to kill their specified victim and the maybe a few pages of them actually confronting the victims while they sit in shock (well probably confusing and paralyzing fear) but the big bad guy? The main bad guy? The main antagonist? His history is spread across multiple chapters so, I didn’t miss much there. But…I was really looking forward to really reading how he lured in his prey and wanted to see their reactions of “Oh shit, I’m one of the targets the news has been talking about.”
However, I’m not too disappointed. While shorter than I had hoped (I expected his chapter to be far longer than the others’ because he’s the main antagonist) it’s not like Nathan glossed over the villain’s personalized chapter either. Therefore, my disappointment is kept to a minimum and I was still satisfied because I got the ending that I wanted and the main antagonists’ victims got what they deserved AND were awake and conscious to feel all of it.
Writing Side Note
I’m not a fan of info dumps. I try to tolerate them, whether they are traditional info dumps or dialogue dumps (I’ve read books where a character practically speaks for 7+ pages straight in order to explain history to another character [thus the audience and readers]), but generally, I don’t particularly care for it.
And there’s info dumps here and there in this book.
Strangely? I didn’t mind.
I called them “personalized chapters.” There was literally a whole chapter just dedicated to introducing Agent Susan Chamberlain to the readers (her history, why she chose FBI, etc.) and then another chapter doing the same for Agent Godwin (Michael). But, everything was short and I kind of enjoyed the writing so it didn’t really matter. They were info dumps…that didn’t feel like an info dump. I can’t explain it further than that.
And by the time I caught on that nearly all of the main pawns/villains were getting their OWN little background chapters, I was starting to enjoy it. It was part of how this book was going to go, because, for a lot of these 100’ers, you’ll only get to hear their tale in that one chapter and never again. It’s their story squished into a single chapter, a chance to hear their reasonings. A chance to make the world look at them like the heroes they believe themselves to be.
So yeah, somehow, I didn’t mind the info dumps because it added to the charm of the story. It just fit into this particular book very nicely and the writing really patterns around those chapters. Strangely nicely done.
The characters were likeable, especially the main protagonists, Agent Chamberlain and Agent Michael, but I was kind of rooting for the villain and his 100’ers. I read a lot of mystery thrillers and crime books. I’m usually on the cop’s side because the bad guys are REALLY BAD GUYS, but all of the villains here are grieving and have been terribly wronged. All of their victims deserved some form of karma and I found myself unable to hate them for their actions.
I’m not condoning their actions nor their violence and definitely not condoning how the main antagonist was weaponizing grief (that’s how it’s stated) even if all of the entire operation was done for the better good and to teach a lesson to those who take advantage of people below them. However, I still rooted for them, the bad guys here, in a sorrowful way.
The protagonists? I liked Susan. She had her flaws and like any good human had her oversights. Sometimes, Michael had better ideas than her, despite being the senior office and Michael’s mentor. There was a scene where a cop was disrespecting her because of her gender and she practically flattens him with words. I don’t think that guy is ever going to recover from that…(I cheered though).
Michael is a very smart fellow and his catchphrase is “Fair enough.” It’s his first major on-field case and damn, talk about first case man! It must be such an adrenaline rush as he makes his way in proving his worth to his team. He makes for a good teammate because, sure he’s a rookie, but he had his fair share of contribution and breakthroughs that helped catapult the case forward. He thinks outside the box and questions things that Susan or Sumner may have missed. There was a major moment where his lightning fast reflexes essentially saved the case from blowing up in their face, taking their only lead to the grave AND became a major turning point in the story too!
“Working with a new agent was like a first date, only with potential life-or-death consequences while in the field.”
The main villain is there to lead the other “We Are 100” members and he’s got the means to pull everything off too. He can be manipulative and even he acknowledges that there are moments where he pulled certain stunts that might’ve met the requirement of putting him on the chopping block in the same lanes as the victims. Still, he’s cunning and his entire plan is so thoroughly thought through that it makes my head spin. However, he’s got an ego and he enjoys toying with the agents even if he knows of the risks behind it all.
Nathan’s a comedian and his quips, sarcasm, and little remarks show in the writing. One of the reasons I really enjoyed this book was because I enjoyed Nathan’s writing. He’s got good things to say about many things, especially those in high power or high wealth, that makes its way into the book because they’re relevant to the plot. His dialogues are pretty nice and I enjoy the little interactions between everyone. One of the things I really enjoyed was how he wrote all of his characters, especially the women in this book.
Emotions wise, I got my fair share of light tears, chills and handful of shocks (of course). There was the moment that the agents discovered the website with the blank profile pictures and a cold feeling ran down my spine (for the agents, because the blurb already gives away that there’s plenty of others out there). Think about it. You come to investigate one man’s crimes, perhaps he’s got about 1-5 accomplices tops, only to discover that there’s a potential of up to 100 total related cases, blank profiles staring like ticking time bombs…Can you image the sheer fear and horror of this discovery?
I don’t think you need a final thoughts section to know that I really loved this book. I took it on because I gave the blurb a single look over and thought, “Oh hell no, I’m not missing this one.” The writing was entertaining and kept me going even when the plot slowed down during the investigation. The characters were well written with some decent interactions between themselves. Info dumbs didn’t feel like info dumps and lastly, I’m over here rooting for the wrong damn side. I had a great time these last few days with “We Are 100” so Nathan, don’t stop writing fiction! I hope you continue and come out with more because I’ll be right there to read your next one!
“The internet was supposed to break down all the walls between people, and information. We were all supposed to get smarter, and this would usher in a new age of enlightenment. In reality, all the internet did was make it a thousand times easier for crazy people to meet and befriend one another.”
“People shared things online they would never share in person. There was a comfort in being alone with your computer in the middle of the night; the cold screen in front of you allowed you to type out thoughts you’d never verbalize. It was a better confessional than the Catholics had in their churches.”
I really enjoyed this book. Right into the first chapter, we go from 0 to 100 really quick and it ends off in such a way that I had to stop and process what just happened. The adrenaline was dripping off me and I turned right back and ended up reading that chapter one more time just to experience it again. In Nathan Timmel’s first fiction novel, we follow the story of the sheep that fight back against the wolves that have set their paws on top of the common folk for long enough. Powerful people in powerful positions are falling one by one and their deaths are there to make an example to the world. You only paint your own targets is the theme that those in the “We Are 100” follow.
The writing is really good, even during moments that starts to slow down in between all the drama and adrenaline. The characters are likeable; both the good and all of the villains, and you find yourself sympathizing with the bad guys. With a good pace, short chapters, and well written storyline and characters, this book was a great read that was easy to digest. Emotions are strong from the beginning to the end and the book finishes off satisfyingly.
- Pacing: The pacing was done nicely. It’s fast paced only slowed down, slightly, towards the middle as the investigation and “boring leg work” part of the job finally begins. When discoveries are made, the pace quickens again and you’re once again flying through.
- Chapter Length & Content: With short chapters that have chapter titles, the length is really nice. It helps in processing each chapter when some are only 5-7 pages long.
- Info Dumps: While there are info dumps, mostly background stories, it fits in nicely to this book. There’s a pattern to the format of how this story goes and eventually the individual “personalized chapters” feel like it’s simply part of the charm of the book.
- Characters: Likeable characters on both the good and bad side. Dialogue is nice and I enjoy the interaction between the team members and the duo.
- Writing: The writing is easy to process and digest and you can see pieces of Nathan’s comedy background sneak its way into his writing style. It’s quite unique and helped me through some of the slow parts. Funny note: Characters raise/furrow/wrinkle/etc. their eyebrows quite a lot. I counted 6 before I stopped 😂