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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

“Seventh Son: Descent” by J.C. Hutchins (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Official JC Hutchins Website
Official Seventh Son Website
Order “Seventh Son: DescentHERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning novelist best known for his 7th Son trilogy, which was released as free serialized audiobooks from 2006-07, and is the most popular “podcast novel” series in history with over two million downloads. Hutchins has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME.com, Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, etc., and is also the author of “Personal Effects: Dark Art” which was co-written by Jordan Weisman.

PLOT SUMMARY: As America reels from the bizarre presidential assassination committed by a four-year-old child, seven men are abducted from their normal lives and delivered to a secret government facility. Each man has his own career, his own specialty. All are identical in appearance. The seven strangers were grown—unwitting human clones—as part of a project called 7th Son.

The government now wants something from these “John Michael Smiths.” They share the flesh and implanted memories of the psychopath responsible for the president's murder. The killer has bigger plans, and only these seven have the unique qualifications to track and stop him. But when their progenitor makes the battle personal, it becomes clear he knows the seven better than they know themselves...

FORMAT/INFO:7th Son: Descent” is 356 pages long divided over thirty-four numbered chapters and a Prologue. Narration is in the third-person via the seven clones (John, Michael, Kilroy 2.0, Father Thomas, Jack, Dr. Mike, Jay), John Alpha and various other POVs. “Descent” is the first book in the 7th Son trilogy (Deceit, Destruction) and ends on a cliffhanger.

October 27, 2009 marks the North American Trade Paperback publication of “7th Son: Descent” via St. Martin’s Press. Cover illustratrion provided by Thomas Roepke/Zefa/Corbis.

ANALYSIS: When reading J.C. Hutchins’7th Son: Descent”, I couldn’t help but notice many similarities between the author of the book and fellow writer Scott Sigler. For one, both started out as podcast novelists whose popularity helped the authors earn a book deal. Two, they both write cross-genre fiction—in the case of “7th Son: Descent”, J.C. Hutchins mishmashes techno-thrills and suspense with science fiction . . . think Michael Crichton, James Rollins, Dean Koontz and Michael Marshall Smith all rolled into one. And thirdly, like Sigler, J.C. Hutchins is a damn good writer...

The most impressive thing about the writing in “7th Son: Descent” is how well-rounded and polished it is. Dialogue, prose, characterization, plotting, pacing, pop culture references . . . all of it is handled skillfully and with cinematic-like flair. But if I had to single out just one area to praise, it would be the characters, in particular the author’s ability to bring seven clones to life in convincing fashion, make us sympathize about their plight, and ultimately care about what happens to them. No small feat considering each John Michael Smith is basically the same person (shares the same childhood memories, traits and mannerisms) apart from their different Life Template Plans (marine, hacker, priest, geneticist, criminal psychologist, United Nations humanitarian, wanderer), and technically aren’t even human taking into account their implanted memories, accelerated growth and the fact that they are copies of John Alpha. Of the actual characters themselves, I sympathized with “black sheep” John the most, but Kilroy2.0 has the coolest voice:

Once, long ago during his life as a civilian, Kilroy2.0 had been known by another name, a man’s name, a Pedestrian’s name, forgettable. It was the name of an unenlightened tourist of the world, one familiar to worker bees who did not hear the whispers in the walls. But that name, that life, that was Before. Before he had seen the Truth that was seeping through the Media’s Lies. Before he had his pulpits.
Before he was here. Before he was everywhere
.”

Concept-wise, readers will find a number of overly familiar tropes in “7th Son: Descent” like cloning, conspiracy theories—one of which includes Nazis, hackers, man playing God, cryptic messages to be decoded, secret government projects and the megalomaniac villain who believes the evil he is committing is for the betterment of mankind, but thanks to ideas like the 7th Son project, Memory Totality uploads/downloads and NEPTH-charge technology (Neuro Erasure Pulse Technology Hardward) with all of its frightening implications, J.C. Hutchins manages to keep things fresh and interesting. The plot itself is a bit conventional if you’ve read or seen any similar novels/movies, but the action scenes and inevitable twists & turns are exciting and capably orchestrated.

In the end, it’s easy to see why J.C. Hutchins’ podcast novels are so popular. “7th Son: Descent” is well-written and executed, characters are charming and believable, the concept is both frightening and entertaining, and the action is pulse-pounding. Above all, J.C. Hutchins’7th Son: Descent” is a blast to read and leaves readers wanting more. So sign me up for the sequels!

4 comments:

shaneo52 said...

Thanks for the review, Robert. This sounds pretty cool.
Which got me looking around, and I found this
http://www.amazon.com/Crescent-Phil-Rossi/dp/1896944523/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Liviu might like that one too.

Robert said...

No problem Shane :) Thanks for the heads up about Crescent! Never heard of the book or author before, but it sounds right up my alley :D

John said...

Love the blog. I am currently following you and have you linked on my blog at burblingbooks.blogspot.com. How did you get to be so successful. Any hints or tips that you could provide a newbie.

Thanks,

John

shaneo52 said...

Right on Robert, glad to be of help after all what y'all for us!
Now I really wanna get my hands on Crescent!

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