E.A. Aymar Exposes the Darkness Within
At eighteen years of age, most of us had the good fortune of leading normal lives, going to school, out with friends, and arguing with their parents. As the average level of life keeps increasing overall, it also becomes easier and easier to forget about those who end up slipping through the cracks and are fighting a completely different battle from the rest of us. Some of us learn to make a stand for ourselves in a world of complete safety, but others, like the eighteen-year-old Charlotte Reyes in E.A. Aymar’s The Unrepentant, learn in the hardest way possible.
Growing up in an abusive home, life for Charlotte was never easy to begin with, but it seemed like at the turn of adulthood life was about to present a whole world of new prospects. Unfortunately for her, it was never meant to be as she jumped from the frying pan into the fire, leaving her home only to be tricked by a gang of kidnappers.
They take her across the country on a feverish nightmare of a trip, and all seems lost until her path crosses with the reluctant former soldier Mace Peterson. She manages to escape with his help, but this really only marks the beginning of their wild chase.
Relentlessly on her pursuit and with a crooked cop in their pocket, the kidnappers are dead-set on bringing Charlotte back, dead or alive. Running can only take the young woman so far, and the time comes when she realizes the only option is to fight back against the obscurity forever hanging against her.
Taking us into the darker corners of the human psyche and the devils which dwell within, Charlotte’s journey is one bound to leave her changed forever… if she can even make it through in the first place.
The Survivor’s Revenge in The Unrepentant
First thing’s first, I would like to give everyone a bit of a warning about the natural of the material found in this novel. Though it is a work of fiction, it does contain some rather hard-hitting descriptions in regards to sensitive subjects, the primary one being human trafficking.
While this is a book and these passages can be skipped if you so choose, I believe you should be aware of the rather realistic approach the author takes in depicting some very real problems in our own world. While Aymar is definitely trying to expose the unseen side of the real world to us as much as possible, he is also using it to carefully build up the main character of The Unrepentant.
Charlotte, despite being only eighteen years of age, has already gone through the whole ringer of abuse at the hands of a human trafficking ring, and I felt the author did a good job at explaining all she went through without diving into pages upon pages of graphical details.
This was a recurrent theme I noticed throughout the book: short but very powerful descriptions which get the point across and only leave little to the imagination. Considering the subject matter, I definitely feel this was an excellent choice by the author.
Throughout the story, Charlotte evolves into much more than an escaped victim, especially as she begins plotting her revenge against the men who robbed her of her life. Her purpose takes on an increasingly grand scope, as she even sets her sights on dismantling the ring, along with Mace’s help.
Her path of development as a person is also far from being flawless, and we are time and time again reminded of the danger revenge carries with it, as she ends up putting innocent people in the crossfire. Nevertheless, we can never dislike her for it, and this is in large part due to the author’s ability to communicate her inner world to us, a talent not many writers have these days.
The Unrelenting Violence of the World
Turning our attention to the plot itself, in terms of pacing we have more or less a classic rapid thriller, with relatively short chapters and little time wasted on anything which might be superfluous. Once we get acquainted with our characters the events just begin unfolding one after the other, and we only get a few breaks here and there during which our characters often reflect on their broken selves.
It does make for a bit of weird set-up, where the novel does have a lot of things to think about, but doesn’t really give us the time to while reading, not unless we choose to stop ourselves. It’s by no real means a drawback, more like a quirk we don’t get to see very often.
Overall-speaking, I think you can imagine just how dark and bleak the world is in this novel. There is suffering aplenty and a whole lot of violence to go along with it. However, where most authors would make the violence feel senseless and gratuitous, Aymar, in my opinion, does a commendable job at depicting how it affects all parties involved.
Violence doesn’t simply happen for the sake of it, and when it does it changes something in the internal world of our characters. Both the suffering of the victim and the perpetrator are given some light.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, especially considering how much I’ve written so far about the doom and gloom nature of the atmosphere, there are some rather poignant moments of comic relief inserted strategically throughout the novel.
They are never excessive and always clever in their nature, with their scarcity providing a strong contrast against the rest of the subject matter in the novel. The dark humour really stood out to me wherever it was present, and I feel like the author struck the perfect balance of comedy and tragedy for the story he wanted to tell.
The Final Verdict
The Unrepentant by E.A. Aymar is a dark, realistic and extremely thoughtful thriller novel, with a double aim to expose the reader the reality of human trafficking in terms of how it affects the victims. It’s much more than your run-of-the-mill revenge story, and if you enjoy vengeance thrillers and books which explore the darkness of the human soul and how far it can lead us astray, then I strongly recommend you give this novel a read.
E.A. Aymar is an American author born in Panama who runs the Noir at the Bar series for Washington, D.C. In addition to having hosted and spoken at numerous writing and publishing events around the country, he also runs a monthly column in the Washington Independent Review of Books called Decisions and Revisions. He also has several novels published under his belt, including I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and The Unrepentant.