I’ve had quite a bit of fun lately listening to SF audiobooks on my iPhone, and 7th Son is one of the most notable things I’ve listened to lately. Audio is the form I mostly dealt with it in, although it’s critical to mention as well that Book 1 of this story is available in print and ebook form. Once I got far enough into this story that I realized I did in fact want to own a copy, I snatched up the ebook. If you like SF-flavored thrillers, it’s definitely worth your time.
The story starts off with a literal bang: the shot of the gun that takes out the President of the United States. What shocks the nation even more than the assassination is the assailant: a four year old boy who mysteriously dies days later. And in the aftermath of this, seven men leading seemingly disparate and unrelated lives are abruptly snatched up by a top-secret government agency, brought together, and set to the task of finding the mastermind who brought about the President’s demise.
This would have been shock enough to the seven men, but far greater a shock is their discovery that they resemble one another enough to be identical brothers, modulo external physical differences. They soon learn that this is because they haven’t led natural lives at all–they are clones, and moreover, they’re the clones of the man they’ve been brought together to seek.
I say all this because it’s not really spoilery. Much of the initial stretch of the story has to do with the seven clones all reacting to the shock of this discovery. Because there are many viewpoint characters here, and because each of the seven men gets the story of their abduction told, the real action does take a bit to get underway. Especially if you’re listening to the audio version. Have patience, though; things continue to get quite intriguing, and as you get periodic glimpses of what mastermind John Alpha is up to, there’s a lovely sense of impending dread as all of his machinations go on while the clones are still trying to figure each other out.
In the audio version, author J.C Hutchins does an excellent job reading each chapter. Things are spiced up as well with guest narrators coming in on many of the later chapters to summarize previous action for you, and there are nicely spaced musical hits in between major scenes to maintain the mood. The audio is definitely worth listening to. But on the other hand, don’t discount buying a print or ebook version, either. The official released book is just different enough from the older audio version that it’s intriguing to wonder what led to the decision to shift certain things around. Without getting too spoilery, I’ll simply note that you might be on the lookout for two of the major characters swapping roles as to who does what in the final third of the story.
Overall this was a gripping little narrative, sometimes with slower pacing than most modern thriller fans might like. But it helps to keep in mind as well that this is only Book 1 of a true trilogy, and that Books 2 and 3 eventually continue and conclude the overall adventure. Unfortunately Book 1 is the only installment of the trilogy that’s in print, and the only one expected to be released–but if you like the audio version at all, support J.C. Hutchins by buying the print or ebook version! Four stars.