Seven by Adrienne Wilder

Seven, by Adrienne Wilder
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi, Mystery/Action, Urban, MM Romance
Stars: 4.5

18484698

 

Blurb:
A past that won’t let go…
After losing his job, Chase Sarim finds himself living in a shit hole apartment. His new neighbor calls himself Seven, wears aluminum hats and carries around a ceramic rooster. He also seems to know what Chase is going to do or say before it happens, and talks about people named, Nine, Three, and Four.
Chase knows better than to get involved with someone like that.
But some men are just to hot too resist.
A future of fear…
Seven has been running for his life ever since he escaped Sub-Floor. In order to elude those hunting him he can never have a home, never have friends…and love? It’s nothing but a weakness that can be used against him.
Hiding had become a way of life. Until Chase.
Greed, power, and corruption…
Dr. David Stone knows Seven has a secret. Why else would his colleague, Dr. Radcliff, help Seven escape Sub-Floor?
It wasn’t the loss of a defective precog that bothered Stone, it was the fact Radcliff was willing to die to keep Stone from knowing why he did it. Or better yet, how.
Two men, one love, brought together by a series of impossible circumstances and destined by fate for an entangled future.
But maybe fate has nothing to do with it.

Review:
Seven is a totally engrossing book with a bit of everything: romance, friendship, mystery, action, and science fiction style experimentation. While many romances focus on building the main characters’ relationship, the emphasis here is the overall story. This is so much more than a romance novel. In fact, as far as love stories go, I could argue that the relationship shared by Three and Four is more epically romantic than Chase and Seven’s. Given how peripheral those two are to this book, that should tell you something about Seven’s plot and characters. There is an expansive story arc that Wilder has just begun to explore, and so far, it seems she has thought of everything. As this is the first book in a series Wilder has planned (she is currently writing the second), some of the storylines are left unfinished and dangling at the end of Seven.

By the end of Chase and Seven’s initial meeting, I was fully invested in their tale. Not yet sure of the state of Seven’s sanity, I really tried not to laugh at the possibly mentally unstable guy. But with how the scene is written, I couldn’t help myself. It’s hard not to laugh about a sweet, fumbling young man in a tinfoil hat, whose neighbor thinks him “crazy as a shithouse rat” but harbors a crush despite it. Especially when Chase likens said hat to “Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers.”

Chase’s last relationship has ended with an abrupt finality that leaves him mired in grief and guilt, and in all honesty, he deserves to feel both. His youth and inexperience didn’t provide him with the maturity to properly handle the situation, and he’s been dragging himself through life ever since. More recently, Chase has lost his apartment and his job. Since he refuses contact with, and financial assistance from, his father, a position taken stemming from his father’s role in the failed relationship, Chase is stuck renting in a grungy building.

Seven is Chase’s neighbor, and almost instantly likeable; he’s quirky, squirrely, as well as alarmingly and charmingly naïve. His unorthodox methods may be necessary, but he initially comes across as utterly unhinged. He’s not perceived as dangerous, really, just nutty.

Understandably, Chase is shaky to even associate with Seven, let alone believe anything Seven discloses regarding Sub Floor. Almost unwillingly, Chase is drawn into Seven’s world. As a man and a reporter, the double baited snare of his physical attraction and the intrigue surrounding Seven are impossible to resist.

Though Chase is initially thrown by Seven’s precognitive abilities, he adapts relatively quickly, possibly due to the overwhelming evidence that bigger things than that are happening.

Seven reacts similarly to Chase, in that he is immediately reluctant to have any contact with Chase. On his end, though, it’s due to the danger a relationship would put them both in. But he too feels such a strong draw to the other man that he takes the risk. He continues to takes protective measures against Stone, even when Chase is still disbelieving of their vulnerability to harm.

That early hesitance aside, I was a bit surprised by the quickness in which Seven not only began interacting with Chase, but also telling Chase about Sub Floor. Seven himself wonders about his need to confide, but he almost immediately entrusts Chase with a great deal of information. Eventually the concept of a Center is mentioned, but until that point, it’s hard to believe how rapidly the two men bond despite their mutual misgivings.

The main plot’s action begins swiftly, and the attention paid to Seven’s oddities tapers off leading me to wonder if Seven’s early peculiar precautionary actions had been necessary. But this is more than likely because the focus of the plot has shifted from introducing the characters’ personalities to delving deeper into evading and dealing with Stone and Sub Floor.

It becomes apparent that Seven has another, more dangerous, talent that he’s promised not to use. The mentions of it are maddening, and I wanted so badly to scan the later bits of the book until I could find what it is, but I resisted. Good thing, too, because the talent and how it’s used is pretty neat and worth the wait.

The sci-fi aspects could have easily blown right over my head, but Wilder does a great job describing the scientific aspects of Sub-Floor and the genetic manipulation, at leas for a total layperson.

I have no clue about any of the chemicals mentioned, and even if I looked them up, would be at a loss. But it worked, and quite a bit of thought went into making this sound plausible (again, this is from the perspective of a non-scientist). There’s a fair bit of explanation regarding the scientific nature of the Others’ abilities, and the abilities themselves, but not so much that it reads like a textbook. It’s only described when necessary; Wilder neatly avoids block information dumps. I didn’t get caught up in picking apart the scientific bits, but it all seemed convincing enough.

Few currently active writers seem to have Ms Wilder’s ability to blend foreshadowing into the story so it’s just a whisper of a hint, that one may not truly take note of until it all unfolds and one realizes how subtle the clues have been. Several of the characters and situations are not as they seem, but when reality is shown, it makes absolute sense.

There are a few things I would like clarified in future books within this series. For instance, why Thirteen’s DNA seems to be different from the rest of the Others, though I admit I may have interpreted that incorrectly. But why are the Others’ names seemingly given with random numerical order of existence? I know, it’s stupidly nitpicky, but if they’re named with numbers, it makes sense the numbers would be chronological. It seems they were created at different times (I think it’s mentioned that Four came into being after Twenty Three), and I may have misread that bit, but they seem to be randomly named and I can’t figure out why.

As for the Others, there are so many plot arcs I want to see in their entirety.

Nine is fascinating, and I’m dying to see what happens with him, and where he is. He’s abrasive, manipulative, and either extremely helpful or completely destructive, but is in a definitely precarious place with Chase’s trust.

Three (Nine’s twin) is equally interesting. Stone describes him as a perfect assassin, who is held back only by Four. But this relationship with Four is so intense they deserves their own book.

Thirteen is a bit of a mystery. He’s one of Stone’s most prized tools, and is forced to find Seven. Despite that, Seven defends him to Nine, saying he’s just “a kid” (something else that led me to believe the Others were created at different times) and “no worse than the rest of us.” While he may be no worse, he is different, partially because all of the extra senses are heightened in him. At times, when reading from his perspective, it almost felt like I was experiencing his fear. I want to know what happens to him, too.

I’m assuming there are 23 Others, as Twenty Three is the highest numerical name shared with readers. So I’m terribly interested in knowing more about those not mentioned (about thirteen are not noted). Wilder writes that some are dead, some still in the lab, and some had run but were deemed “defective” and not worth retrieving. But where are those who ran that we don’t read about? Who are they? I want to know if they’re ever going to make appearances.

This is where we pretend the last few paragraphs here aren’t really a list of demands, but instead a wish list of what I’d love to have expanded upon in the next book.

It’s worth noting how much I really enjoy the idea that Seven, as a precog, can lose place of when in time he is. I don’t think that’s a premise I’ve read before in books featuring a precog, and it inspired a whoa-blink. I absolutely appreciate the effort Ms Wilder put into thinking about different aspects of her uniquely talented characters.

Wilder’s Seven takes readers on a trip that spins from budding relationships to the despair of loss, from psychopathic scientists to genetically engineered humans, from life-and-death decisions to hilarity of a guy wearing Spock ears, from flexible time to the immediate need for necessities. There is some downtime when things are quiet and the focus is back on the characters, but most of the story is filled with something happening or threatening to happen. As full as Seven is with action, Wilder uses occasional bits of humor to take the edge off otherwise awful circumstances, while managing to avoid making these distressing issues seem any lesser.

For once, editing was an afterthought for me. I only noticed a couple of mistakes, the wrong homophone was used, and there was a formatting slip or two where the font changed a bit. But there was nothing terrible, and nothing that ruined my enjoyment of the story itself. I’ll take a few editing missteps if it means we can see more of these remarkable characters soon.

Publisher and Original Publication Date: Self-Published, September 20, 2013
Purchase URLs:

Formats Available: epub, mobi, pcr, pdf, rtf, lrf, palm doc, plain text
Length: 96,680 words, 325 pages
Reviewed by: Adrienne

 

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