Monday, February 28, 2011

Subject Seven by James A. Moore

What You Need to Know: Despite some compelling action sequences, this overlong, confusing Jekyll and Hyde retread will frustrate the reluctant readers it seems designed for. 

Summary:  Years ago, a top secret project aimed to create the ultimate solider.  Genetic experiments resulted in a group of "failures" who nonetheless have unbelievable strength, speed and a taste for violence.   These failures, blind to their unusual abilities, live their lives as normal teenagers.  One of these experiments escaped and is now looking for the other teens who are like him.  Subject Seven has the ability to awaken the killers inside these five normal teens, but his agenda is not clear.  

What Worked:  Moore knows how to put together a fight scene.  When this book moves, it really moves, and the descriptions of carnage are vivid and brutal.   The physicality of the transformations of the teen sleeper agents is arresting, calling to mind Gothic horror stories.    

What Didn't:  Moore takes forever, or at least half of the 336 pages, to get to the point.  Each of the 5 characters has a protracted, and ultimately meaningless, introduction.   Moore changes the viewpoint character frequently,  not just among the teens and their alter-egos, but to the scientist in charge of the experiment.  Instead of building suspense, these shifts merely drag the narrative down, confuse reader and slow the pace to a crawl.  The characters themselves are little more than clichés , with the "Jersey Mafia daughter" being the worst of the lot.  

Who would I give this book to: Honestly, I can't see recommending this book anybody.  The readers who would gravitate to this book's violent action would not wade through the lengthy and confusing first half of the book.  Teens who would be willing to stick with the protracted introduction would be put off by the stock characters.   

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