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Archive for the ‘contemporary’ Category

7th Son: Descent by J. C. Hutchins
I honestly think this book gave me a concussion. But first, a plot summary.NOTE: I received this from the Amazon Vine program (and regret every moment of it).Seven men are abducted and find out they are all clones named John Michael Smith. A supersecret government organization (and really, what ones aren’t?) has created them to…look cute in Christmas cards? To say “I’m in two places at once”? I’ve finished the book, and I’m still not sure. Anyway, John Michael Smith Alpha, the original source material, has gone mad science experiment, kidnapped their “mother”, and is generally wreaking lots of havoc. So our seven clones have to band together and stop him.The One Reason Reading This Book Wasn’t a Horrible Decision:The cloning idea was interesting (hence, why I requested this book in the first place). I’ve always been a nerd for cloning stories. Also, when the action FINALLY gets into gear, Hutchins writes it well.

Okay, so that’s two, but frak it, after all the damage this book has done to my brain, I think I have an excuse for being unable to count.

The Ten Reasons Why Reading This Book Is Totally Not Worth the Above One Reason:
(in absolutely no order because I don’t want to bother to take the time to try to rank all these horrors to humanity)

1. The Introduction. When I first tried to read this, I couldn’t get two pages past the first chapter. Not only do we have the most unbelievable intro (a four-year-old CHILD kills a PRESIDENT and yells obscenities?!), but then we are thrust into the post-coital life of John. He has just finished boinking Sarah and is off for more cigarettes. Number one, the child assassin is completely unbelievable, even if it is later explained in a semi-understandable way. Number two, I don’t care about this John character and mentioning his amazing sex life as an introduction to him is NOT going to make me care about him more. If I hadn’t been so desperate to get this book out of my to-read shelf, I would never have come back to it.

2. Stereotypical characters. Every. Single. Character. Is a stereotype. I am not joking. It’s disgusting and frustrating. No wonder I smacked my head so much with this book (Note to self: Punish the BOOK not YOURSELF when reading)! No wonder I found myself screaming at it. And in case you don’t believe me, here’s a slice:
Michael: Marine. Says “hoss” and “fubar”. Can organize a strike force and invade any building, even if he may or may not be trained for that because Marines can do ANYTHING. The only thing that breaks him from the mold is his homosexuality, but that is another topic for discussion.
John: The “free-floating” musician. Bartender and self-proclaimed “black sheep”. Must be the resident Marty Stu or Author Avatar, because he damn near narrates the whole thing (including going to a Club for a military-ish mission) and pretty much is uber awesome despite doing zippo.
Thomas: Pudgy priest. Bawls on command and rubs rosary beads so we know that, like, he’s totally into God. Oh, yeah, and he worries about being soulless, because, you know, he’s totally into God.
Kilroy2.0: The computer geek. Constantly called a lunatic and giggles. Oh, yeah, and obscenely overweight because, you know, all of us that spend a lot of time on the internet or with computers are 300+ pounds. Oh, yeah, and lives in a room with no lights, no windows, and no human contact (fortunately, it is NOT his parents’ basement). How did this book get so many podcast downloads? This is basically like smacking everyone who does stuff on the computer in the face with a brick.
Jay: UN simpering wuss–I mean, “lobbyist” (or whatever, it doesn’t ultimately matter). The wife wears the pants in the relationship. I’m surprised he doesn’t regularly wet himself with the way he acts in here.
Jack: The pot-belly, bearded geneticist. Oh, he also has a family…not that that fact is very important except for the random times he wants to throw it in there to remind us.
Dr. Mike: Criminologist occasionally called a “politician” for whatever reason. He’s loud, obnoxious and unlikeable. Oh, and he doesn’t have a sig-o, probably because he’s so loud, obnoxious and unlikeable.
John Alpha: Crazy mad clone (sorta) who runs away with technology that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE for him to be able to obtain.
Not to mention, we also get a racist Texan oil tycoon who comes down on presidents who don’t call in two days time, a 70+ year-old vice president who gets a hard on for a buxom Indian woman even though he is married and has children/grandchildren, a fat, smoking Russian soldier, and an evil, insane Nazi scientist (because NO good conspiracy story is without one of those). Atrocious.
3. Pop culture references. I swear to God, Hutchins must have gotten paid by the reference, because the pages are littered with them. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Frankenstein, Ben Affleck, Short Circuit, Star Wars…and those are only the ones I recognized/remembered!
4. Excessive amount of time dedicated to “backstory”. The first chapter is over, and all seven clones have been kidnapped. The next almost 200 pages then hem and haw around the shiny new 7th Son facility, the cloning tanks, the cloning technology, the mind transferring technology, several bigwig meetings, a bunch of asking the same questions over and over again, and other padding that made me want to scream when one of the bigwigs goes, “Oh, and we have to find your mother QUICKLY”. QUICKLY?!?! Yes, let’s brood for 200 pages and THEN get on to finding that mother of yours. I don’t care if the in-book time is a whopping one day, I, as a reader, am sick of reading about all this made-up science and canyon deep plot holes!! Let’s get to the thriller part already!
5. Unclear objective. At one point, the clones’ “father” reveals that the men were cloned to “make a team”, but that is one bullsh!t of an answer if I’ve ever heard of one. I almost prefer the “nature vs. nurture” idea, but, of course, that doesn’t have enough government conspiracy in it (and is REALLY a stupid use of bajillions of government money). WHY would being around 6 other copies of yourself mean that you are more efficient? Wouldn’t they also have your flaws? Wouldn’t they have developed their own differences that would make them potentially less able to work together? What if all the men had chosen different paths from their life plan? And if you are one of the clones and don’t KNOW the other 6 men until you are randomly thrown back together after, say, 16 years, how can you say you would IMMEDIATELY start working well with them, like our seven idiots do here? There are so many unspoken questions I have about this great “plan”.
6. The puzzles are either ludicrously simple or just plain ludicrous. The first “clue” is a Morse Code bit that translates into music which translates into other stuff. This takes our 7 clones a whopping 5 minutes to decipher. I guess NO OTHER SCIENTIST was a musician (because, you know, scientists are just geeky science nerds who have no other hobbies than their job) or knew Morse Code or was a psychiatrist or all the other things that were SUPPOSEDLY needed to solve this puzzle. Laughable. And then, when John Alpha leaves a second clue (this time five months prior), I have to go, “Huh?! What is THIS all about?!”
7. Out for REVENGE! Villains never have any real good reason to be villains anymore. They are always out for that simple “revenge”. And it’s no different here. John Alpha wants to kill because of revenge (and Nazis, because Nazis are so easy to identify as being BAD and make writing SO EASY and UNIMAGINATIVE). Every scene with him or Devlin is groan-worthy (and what is the POINT of including them, anyway???). I could have identified the “bad guys” in a blind line-up just by the way they talked and acted!
8. Almost exclusively written in John’s point of view. John had to be one of the most boring of the seven. Which must have been why EVERYTHING was written from his point of view (or if it wasn’t, the viewpoint character drooled all over his awesomeness). It particularly made the scenes were EVERYONE calls his sig-o awkward, as we hadn’t seen their point of view since they got captured 200 pages prior. And what the HELL was up with that scene, anyway? I don’t CARE what ALL seven clones are doing in the 15 minutes they are allotted to speak to their loved ones if the conversations are essentially THE EXACT SAME!!
9. Michael the Marine. So I don’t have a problem that he’s gay. I do have a problem that he so easy-going about revealing his orientation while being in the military. I don’t see how he would avoid getting bullied and teased if he were so carefree about his sexuality (it’s a sad world, I don’t like it, but it happens–I’ve gotten that impression from my father, who is retired Navy). Furthermore, I hated how Hutchins often would go something like “The conversation Michael and Gabe were having were just like the one Jack was having with his wife”. Oh, REALLY?! Why would it ever NOT be? Gabe and Michael are in a serious relationship; I would never have thought their conversation would be anything BUT intense, just LIKE Jack and his wife’s conversation. Thank you for needlessly clarifying this, Hutchins. Lastly, I hated how Michael and Gabe were the only couple “struggling” because of Michael’s absences (at one point, Gabe says one day he won’t be home waiting for Michael when Michael returns). Why is it that all the other clones’ women can provide unending encouragement and understanding, but the one gay couple can’t? I don’t think Michael’s character deserved to be treated like that.
10. Plot contrivances/holes/chasms. Just a sampling of what is jingling around in my brain: How did John Alpha leave the facility with cloning equipment? How is he able to download Devlin’s data from inside a high security prison? How can he download Devlin’s mind into so many people with practically NO ONE knowing? Why does no one mention the FOUR YEAR OLD CHILD he stole and KILLED more often? Why are NONE of the victims and their families mentioned? Why is Dania allowed to leave 7th Son with her knowledge? Why does no one suspect her? How does John Alpha know so much about the 7 clones? Why were 7 clones created? If the goal was to make efficient teams, why, when the experiment was proved a success, did they not try to form a team out of these men and test their teamwork abilities? Why are there no other teams of 7 in production? Where is the new technology that would have taken over the 3 football sized storage room? Why did the 7th Son team let John Alpha “help” in the cloning process? How did NO ONE see him becoming a psychopath? If he was raised perfectly, wouldn’t that have been “weeded out” already?I didn’t honestly want to give this one star nor did I set out to. I get no joy out of dissing on an author’s hard work. But I honestly haven’t read something so mind-bashingly awful since…well, probably Eldest (the sequel to Eragon). Only this book is better written. The characters are barely one dimensional, all interchangeable, the story is absurd, the villains are mind-numbing obvious. Although the book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, I am most assuredly NOT going to find out how this series/trilogy ends. Not recommended.Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence: Many f-bombs, particularly by Dr. Mike. John is riding off after some Saturday sex with Sarah. Lots of violence from the prologue, including the death of the president at the hand of a four-year-old.
(Review submitted from a Shelf of Shame reader!)
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Heavens, where do I begin? I have read several of DBF’s books in the past and loved them all, Plantation being my favorite. They are always filled with love, laughter, heartbreak, quirky characters and lots of southern food. This one, however is an unmitigated disaster of the first degree and leaves me wondering if the author phoned this one in.

**SPOILERS AHOY*

Basic plot run down – Beth Hayes has just finished college and she’s roped into minding the family home on Sullivan’s Island as her mother’s taking a year to work in Paris, and the aunt is moving to California. Beth is none too pleased to be stuck in the back of nowhere, but she eventually bucks up and makes the most of it, especially when she meets the older and oh-so-handsome developer Max Mitchell and she’s madly in love Just Like That. Or will quiet investment banker Woody be the man to make her dreams come true?

Actually, there’s a bit more to it than that, but you will figure it all out just fine by yourself. You’ll know who’s the cad and what he’s up to lickety split (so why Beth didn’t notice…). You’ll know who Mr. Right is from the get-go, although you will be scratching your head wondering why such a smart man doesn’t spot a scam when it’s staring him in the face. And yes, despite the incredibly stupid pickle Beth gets herself into you’ll see that Perfectly Pat Bacon Saving ending coming a mile away. No need to worry about our oh-so immature and whiny heroine (really, she acts and talks like a fifteen year old) getting her just desserts and learning a valuable lesson in life. No indeedy.

As for the author’s attempts at humor? Everyone of them falls flat as a pancake, and most especially the big ending to the big date wherein our intrepid heroine proceeds to barf (yes, I said barf) all over her man’s shirt before the big kiss. Eewww. With such a unlikeable TSTL heroine, insipid dialogue, shallow characters as well as none of the quirky humor that DBF is known for, I really can’t recommend this for even her die-hard fans. Give it a miss, and this is where my copy’s going next,

 

I know that Mr. FTC man is going to be terribly worried over my book source – Amazon Vine.

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