In the thriller The Loathing, trauma, vengeance, and the brutality of war are the focus.
A man is set on a dangerous, irreversible path in Wilder Nash’s thriller, The Loathing.
Afghanistan, 1999: Hunter, a security contractor, has been sent to retrieve a person of interest to both the CIA and the Taliban. While completing his mission, he kills the son of an influential and dangerous terrorist who will stop at nothing to get revenge. Meanwhile, Hunter’s boss and the CIA have been keeping secrets, and the fallout will endanger everyone whom Hunter cares about.
This first series title spans the globe, from the stark mountains of Afghanistan to the slums of Liberia. Its action-packed beginning is only the first of many tense, bloody action sequences. Hunter is very good at his job, dispatching enemy after enemy with merciless precision. But when things get personal, he flounders, emotionally and professionally.
Hunter’s story is connected with that of his girlfriend, Stella, an American doctor working in Liberia. Though their stories are intertwined, the book’s structure makes them feel detached. It focuses on only one character at a time, and for long stretches at a time; there is almost no interaction between Hunter and Stella. Further, Stella’s story is often told from the perspectives of others, rendering her a prop in Hunter’s story, rather than a character in her own right, despite fascinating hints at her personality, including that she refuses to swear, and that she struggles to deal with the stress of her job.
While some of the book’s characters, like Hunter’s friend AJ, have strong personalities, others are underdeveloped, and the chatter among the men of the cast often includes homophobic, misogynistic, racist, and ableist language. All of the Middle Eastern characters are portrayed in a negative light, and the abundance of minor characters means that most are not developed enough for their circumstance to be impactful.
Trauma is a recurring theme, and both Hunter and Stella have their own pasts to deal with. Secondary characters also struggle with guilt, grief, and acceptance, resulting in ample explorations of how different people cope with tragedy and the imminent fear of death. In the end, it is Hunter’s inability to cope that defines his future.
While lengthy flashbacks and tangents slow the narrative, its final scenes include dark glimpses of what’s to come; Hunter makes a momentous decision, and only time will tell if it was the right one. In the thriller The Loathing, trauma, vengeance, and the brutality of war are the focus.
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