By Brian J. Wagner
After the events of nine-eleven, the United States government instituted a mathematical marvel known as “Legacy.” This mastery of science and engineering can predict the state affairs in our great nation for years to come, and will allow our elected officials to correct any economic incidents before they ever occur. A good thing too, because according to Legacy, America will be in deep trouble in the near future; that’s where Doctor Tom Davis comes in. Tom is a renowned specialist in genetic engineering, called upon by the powers-that-be to carry out an operation known only as “Contingency.” When he finally accepts, Dr. Tom Davis opens a veritable Pandora’s Box that neither he nor his colleagues are ready for.
Mr. Wagner certainly put in the work for this book. The facts are there and the characters are reasonably realistic. I will try not to give away the illegal actions in which Tom Davis and Doctor Monica Stone are forced to engage, but I will say that they involve stem cell research, genetic cloning, and a very famous relic. I was intrigued by the secrecy and suspense surrounding Contingency. Brian did a nice job creating an atmosphere of tension that made his main characters feel like pawns of the government, while keeping them human and somewhat likable.
Okay so here’s the half-empty, I was bored to tears reading this novel. Perhaps if it were a short story maybe I would have enjoyed it more. The idea behind Contingency was solid enough, but the delivery fell drastically short. Allow me to clarify: Oftentimes a writer will research a subject ad nauseam. They will gather information on an idea to the point where said writer could complete their college thesis on the matter and probably get a good grade, maybe even a standing ovation. As for me, when I read a novel, I want to be entertained first, and educated second- as opposed to a text book where the objectives are reversed.
The first ten percent of Contingency read like stereo instructions, leaving me to wonder if I was still reading a thriller/drama. However, once the characters were introduced and the ball started rolling, around twenty percent through, Mr. Wagner captured my attention with government conspiracy and interaction between Tom and Monica. As things continued to build, I wanted to see what operation Contingency was really about, and if Tom could pull himself out of the fire brought down upon him.
I would like to mention each character in the book and tell you their specific qualities and quirks, but that would be disingenuous. I didn’t care about any of the characters in this book. I am aware of their emotional hang-ups and skillsets, yet they weren’t unique enough as individuals to carry me through the social portions of the novel.
Now, on the upside, the ending was great. Everything between the individual characters tied up nicely and the emotion between Tom and Monica was moving to the core. The big reveal was satisfying as well. Way to go!
I can’t personally recommend Contingency by Brian J. Wagner, but if you are into government conspiracy and scientific drama, you should give this story a try and see what you think. Thank you for your time, and keep it up, Brian.
Contingency begins with a shuffling of political characters ranging from the President of the United States to a project manager at the National Institute of Health, many of which will play little to no part in the remaining book with the exception of being mentioned. These characters, if I understand all the political stuff, set in motion the plan that becomes the story line for the remainder of the book.
As with most under-wraps, behind closed doors government type stuff, the U.S government has a program that can basically predict what will happen with our country 40 years or more in the future. It is this program, Legacy, that has given them the indication that in 40 years our country will be in turmoil, needing strong leadership that those currently in power aren’t sure will be around. So they conceive a plan aptly named Contingency.
Our protagonist, Dr. Tom Davis, a genetic engineer, the owner of eXgen Incorporated, and a world renowned doctor is worlds away from the political hubbub of Washington D.C in the desert breezes of Phoenix. He runs a lab that does a multitude of genetics and stem cell research, along with a medical facility that specializes in in vitro fertilization and surrogacy for couples who can’t have children on their own.
I know that I started to give up on this book about a quarter of the way into it until Dr. Davis was approached about the possibility of doing something that in his wildest dreams he could have never imagined being done. The government, or the NIH to be more specific, wants to know if it is possible if he can take bone marrow from a U.S president long deceased and extract stem cells in an effort to clone a child that could one day be molded into the president of the United States in a time where our country is predicted to be in great need of a strong leader. This was when Mr. Wagner had my attention – not to say he kept it the remainder of the book, but at least he had me curious.
It’s no secret the ethical and moral dilemmas that ruffle the feathers of every person on this planet in a different way when it comes to cloning. So of course one might imagine why Dr. Davis refused the proposition. However, he learned quite quickly, no one says no to the U.S government without consequences. It’s safe for you to assume the procedure did take place. And to add fuel to the fire, not all of our country’s enemies are certain they want this to take place. The rest you’ll have to read about.
For the most part Contingency was well written but poorly edited and/proofread. I actually think it’s a shame that it wasn’t edited better because it did deter from the actual story line, struggling to figure out who is saying what or why a comma is there. I suppose it’s safe to say that it was overwritten. I have a huge problem when I’m reading what I assume is a nonfiction book and I get hit with a boat-load of facts or details about subjects that are just a small piece of the book. Sure, some detail is necessary to give validity to the story line, but I don’t want a government or science lecture in the process.
As a whole I’d say Contingency had the potential of being a great book. The story line was there. I kept getting visions of the 2004 movie (not the original book), The Manchurian Candidate. But I was really let down with the lack of true action and follow-through. It drug at times and made me beg for the end to come. I hate to say that because there were some great parts, but I wanted more and was completely thankful when I finally reached the last page