Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery
Published by: Hot Key Books
Format: ARC e-book
I absolutely adore the tagline, ‘Behind bars. For your entertainment.’ It’s such an exciting premise! (Here’s a plot summary: Martha has killed a high profile celebrity, and she will be tried in the Cells, where the public will vote over seven days whether or not they think she’s ‘guilty’ or ‘innocent.’ But there’s something she isn’t mentioning and the people that love her and getting increasingly more concerned as it looks like the vote isn’t going to save Martha. It’s going to kill her.) This book has received quite a lot of hype already and it comes highly recommended by a few blogger friends. So, let’s get onto what I made of it!
Warning: my thoughts are very mixed for this book. None of the points I’m about to make are particularly weighted negative or positive. They might also sounds a bit general or vague, but I don’t want to give anything away, so it’s more food for thought than review.
The Narrative Style
Cell 7 uses a mix of first and third person perspectives. Whenever we were focused on Martha we were almost inside her head evident in the way she would cut herself off and talk to a ‘you’ character. Then there was third person for the counsellor and her supporters, and finally a sort-of ‘transcript’ of the TV show’s presenters. At first I found myself a bit bewildered, but once I got used to it, I found the change exciting!
The Timelessness and Vagueness of Setting
There were throw away references to dates in the late 1900s for capital punishment facts that made it seem like we were in the present day. But present day England or somewhere else? Because it’s UKYA I would assume we’re in the UK, but capital punishment is more of an American thing, as some states still carry the death penalty, but that’s not how things work over here. Then again, watching death as entertainment and the different abstractly named ‘districts’ based on wealth/status screams futuristic. If it did mention a specific time or location and I’ve missed it feel free to let me know.
The structure of the story builds on the slow reveal through subtle ‘Now and Then’ flash backs. Martha doesn’t really do much of the story telling, she’s mostly just moaning about how crappy her predicament is. It’s the characters on the outside that have the interesting stories to tell. There’s Isaac, the adopted son of the murder victim, the counsellor who has a few secrets of her own related to the system, and Cicero, someone who used to be politically important and isn’t afraid to call the system out for its injustices. It makes for varied pacing, mixed with the unique narrative style. Martha’s sections being the slowest and maybe even less engaging, in my opinion.
In the beginning, it’s like you’re meeting fully completed characters. Good thing, right? Well…you only learn about them in the flashback sections, so it’s only at the very end do you fully understand the protagonists. I always find it a little difficult to connect with characters when they’re faced with peril at the very beginning of the story, because why should I care? Who are these people? You don’t know them yet!
It actually plays a surprisingly prominent part in the story. It’s the motivation for everything. It’s a little obvious, but I didn’t mind too much, though I like to see relationships blossom, rather than get a glimpse into an already fully-formed partnership. Martha and Isaac are the star-crossed lovers that are so common in dystopian fiction. In fact the entire ending was almost identical to The Hunger Games. I found myself really disappointed that it ended differently, leading to a second book, which I’m struggling to see how Day 7 is going to be anything other than a repeat of Cell 7.
Overall, Cell 7 is pretty bad-ass and I read it in one sitting I was so pumped. I feel like Days 1, 4, and 7 were really engaging, but the others days were mostly filler, so get ready for a book filled with anticipating and slow release! So, after some mixed opinions, I’m giving it a solid 3 stars.