Meet Simon Orwell, protagonist in Davis Bunn’s latest novel, UNLIMITED. Simon is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor, Dr. Vasquez, who has discovered a device that would create unlimited energy. But to complete it, he needs Simon’s help in Mexico.
Upon crossing the border, nothing goes as planned. The professor has been killed, and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel. Simon takes refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage.
There he meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause. With Harold’s help, Simon embarks on a quest to uncover who killed Dr. Vasquez and why. Along the way, he discovers secrets to both the world-changing device and his own unlimited potential.
UNLIMITED introduces a few familiar character-types found in suspense fiction: a flawed hero in need of redemption, a disdainful woman needing to be won over, and a wise friend providing support. But from there the story takes off in surprising directions. The title gives us a clue, but can be applied in multiple ways. Unlimited questions sparked by the dramatic opening, unlimited curiosity about Simon and how he got into the predicament he faces, unlimited doubts about who can be trusted
The setting—a dusty, Mexican border town—is so clear that reading the book during our recent heat wave was sometimes uncomfortably real. The characters are also realistic. Currently breathing in my home, they’ve been invited to stay.
Illustrating a person’s unlimited potential when relying on a limitless God demands hopeless circumstances. And Bunn delivers. He carries Simon and readers to the crossroads where Simon not only faces loosing limb and life, but the fate of friends and vulnerable orphans rests on him—an injured and self-serving young man floundering in a sea of bad choices and squandered opportunities. We wonder: Will he learn the lessons kindly mentors are offering, and learn them before time runs out?
I am interested in the effect a person can have on the life of another, and how that ripples through future generations. So I was especially intrigued to see the powerful impact Dr. Vasquez has on the characters. Though he died just before the book opens, he is amazingly central to the plot and character development. I was fascinated reading about him.
As a social worker, another point of personal connection I found with this story is the fact so many characters are orphans. I’ve worked closely with children in foster care. Bunn’s portrayal of the special needs and common problems facing children “in the system” is achingly accurate. And the care and attention provided orphans in this story is touching, and sorely needed in the real world.
Bunn does justice to the characters, the story, his readers, and a great God as he unfurls this journey. Though I don’t typically enjoy desert settings, this novel grabbed me and carried me along. UNLIMITED is another in a long line of Bunn’s satisfying reads. I highly recommend it, and eagerly await the movie, opening October 11. If you read the book before the movie opens, I’d love to hear who you would cast. After we compare our virtual casts, we can check out who does play the roles. And I have to say—it looks fantastic!
Meanwhile Davis has given us a few goodies to share. Below you can find links to read the first 3 chapters, see the movie trailer, read an interview with Davis, and—cue trumpet flourish—enter to win a drawing to win a $50 Fandango gift card plus a copy of Bunn’s novel, UNLIMITED. Ten additional winners will receive a copy of UNLIMITED. Enter right now by clicking this link.
Simply enter your name and e-mail address in the form on Davis Bunn’s Facebook page. You can enter once per email address per day. Rack up lots of bonus entries each day by sharing the contest with your Facebook and Twitter friends!
Read Chapters 1-3 of Unlimited for free.
Trailer for Unlimited: The Movie.
Q & A with Davis Bunn
The storyline in Unlimited is inspired by true events. What actual events inspired the story?
Harold Finch was formerly the founder and CEO of the first management-leadership consulting groups in the US. In the mid-seventies he sold the company to H&R Block for over a hundred million dollars—back when a hundred million actually meant something. Answering God’s call, he has spent the past three decades traveling the world, teaching his concepts for free and helping underprivileged children learn that they do indeed have both a purpose in God’s eyes, and the potential to succeed. His experiences form the basis for this story.
Simon Orwell, the protagonist in Unlimited, is a brilliant, cynical electrical engineering student who finds danger irresistible. Did you model his character traits after yourself or anyone you know?
Alas, we all know a Simon. These days, this type of person is all too common. An individual with huge potential, who allows himself or herself to become distracted by the multitude of temptations that basically define modern life. And yes, I do know several such people. Some turn this into hugely productive directions, thank goodness. Usually to do so requires divine help, a clarification of focus, and strength they must reach out and ask to receive.
Many of the characters in the story are orphans. What parallels do you see between the orphans in the story and real-life spiritual orphans?
A beautiful question. While researching the core components of this story, orphanage leaders repeatedly stressed the need to teach orphans to believe in themselves and their natural abilities. Too often they see themselves as lost, without purpose, without a role to play, without chances, without love. What made this story work, I think, is how Simon Orwell shares these same feelings about himself. And how he comes to realize God is the only one to fill this need.
Armando Vasquez and Harold Finch are important mentors in Simon’s life. Who has been a critical mentor in your life, Davis? How has that person encouraged you to push beyond the boundaries of what you thought possible?
There have been several such mentors, for which I remain extremely grateful. One such person is Carol Johnson, who recently retired as editor-in-chief at Bethany House Publishers. Carol has been instrumental in my becoming the best writer I could be, and continues to act as a sounding board for new ideas and characters. Another, I am happy to say, is Harold Finch. His lessons on combining God’s teachings with lifelong aims have been a genuinely rewarding experience with far-reaching results.
What ignited your idea for the characters to create a device that would convert raw wasted energy into useable power?
I actually wrote the screenplay for the film before writing the novel. This happens occasionally—Godfather and Love Story were both conceived in this order. While working on the film script, the producer and Harold and I were discussing what might work as a basis for the story’s suspense element. We were looking for something that had the means of revealing this ‘unlimited’ potential in people. I don’t actually remember who first came up with the idea of wasted energy, but soon as it was said, we all jumped on it.
About Davis Bunn
Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Defined by readers and reviewers as a “wise teacher,” “gentleman adventurer,” “consummate writer,” and “Renaissance man,” his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.
Unlimited is Davis’s first screenplay to be released as a major motion picture. The book, Unlimited, is a novelization of the screenplay.
The inspiration behind the Unlimited film and novel is Harold Finch’s book, Success: Four Keys to Unlock Your Unlimited Potential. Download a free copy of Success here: http://unlimitedthemovie.com/4-keys-book/.
[I received a complimentary copy of Unlimited from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.]