This and future reviews of this podcast audiobook is of the BETA version (released in 2006), NOT the print edition version (released in 2009).
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The first line of this podcast audiobook: “The President is dead. He was murdered, in the morning sunlight, by a four year old boy.” is a great hook. But, as listeners we can’t grasp how that’s possible. But don’t worry, because that gets explained later in the book. Descent’s Hook is both a strength and a fault. It’s “fault” generates from the listener who has to have a weak suspension of disbelief to believe that a four year old boy could murder the president. I’m not saying that it couldn’t happen, in fact quite the opposite. I’m saying that what Hutchins says to make it believable is really up to the listener. Without the explanation of “memory totality” and “nepth charge” I could buy into the possibility of a young kid assassinating the President. The reason is who would suspect a little boy to begin with?
However, without the exposition about the 7th son facility the book would not have been able to keep my enticed as a listener. I mean, who wants to hear about how a four year boy killed the President if there’s no mystery or sense of tension?
While the Prologue raises so many interesting questions, the first chapter is an introduction to the seven main characters of the story, right before they are kidnapped. My biggest complaint is that a lot of the introductions drag on for too long. The old saying in writing fiction, “in late, out early, seems to have taken a back seat to such scenes that started like “Saturday sex with Sara was the best.” While people generally read on at the sign of sex in fiction it is quite a gamble to mention it after the fact as it comes across as a bit misogynistic.
I won’t go into too much detail, but out of the seven character introductions, I’d have to say I enjoyed Professor Mike’s the best. I really enjoyed the character’s voice and found him to be very interesting, despite having a bit of a big ego in his introductory scene. But, then again, who wouldn’t after a book you just published was about to be featured on Larry King Live along with an interview.
As a listener you wonder how all these stories are going to play out. Because, as it stands at the end of chapter one, the seven protagonists don’t have a strong enough plot thread connecting them. And this gets the listener interested in wanting more, but at the same time could turn the listener off as they could be of the mindset, like I was when I first listened to it, of boredom. After a month or so I went back and listened to it, along with chapter two, and all I can say is I’m glad on pushed on through.
Generally, professional writers don’t want to start a novel or story with an info dump, especially seven times. And J.C. Hutchins is able to find the line between that and conflict, but for some introductions, he missed that middle ground.