Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher (Mild Spoilers)

Occasionally you come across a book that is frustrating not because it is bad, but because it showed so much potential and then went in a direction that felt less satisfying.

I want to love Seven Wonders, I really do, but this is a novel that's first third carries great promise, goes off the rails in the middle third and concludes with a final third that is stronger than the second, but not as good as the first.

The set up is pretty simple, the story is set in San Ventura a fiction Southern California megalopolis. This city is "protected" by The Seven Wonders and threatened by the dastardly super-villain, The Cowl and his sidekick Blackbird. The story also features a SVPD SuperCrime department Detective named Sam, as well as a big box store retail employee with emerging superpowers, named Tony.

The introduction of the characters gives us an idea of the status quo in San Ventura, The Cowl and his legions of copycat gangs terrorize the city at night. The Seven Wonders are largely detached and more concerned with appearance and ceremony than with you know rescuing cats out of trees and all that jazz. Sam is an obsessed detective running her own off the books investigations on the Cowl for her own personal reasons. Tony is what I can think you can characterize as a frustrated loser, stuck in retail sales hell.

The comparisons of Cowl and Blackbird to Batman and Robin are obvious, and I enjoyed the idea of an evil Batman. The backbone of the first third of the novel is The Cowl dealing with losing his powers and Tony dealing with his developing powers.

This section of the novel opens up some interesting idea about superpowers, how they are used, and the morality of villains and heroes. This is compelling and interesting stuff, particularly if those presented as heroes are actually the villains and vice versa.

The second section presents some pretty dramatic character changes for the cast, but often while Christopher does a good job building up to these transformations, it feels like they happen either off the page or too quickly to feel real or satisfying.

The third part of the book brings in an intergalactic threat. While this part of the story is told well, it feels somewhat disconnected from the themes dealt with in the first third which would have provided a more compelling novel if this remained the focus.

In the end while I enjoyed Seven Wonders, It felt like the story wasn't given room to breath properly and the whole alien menace plot should have been left for a sequel novel. I wanted to spend more time Tony, The Cowl and the leader of the Seven Wonders, Aurora.

If you are a fan of the superhero genre this book is worth a read, but you may end up a bit frustrated like myself.

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