The 33: Episode 1 Pramantha (Part 1 of 4)

Author J.C. Hutchins has a new story out there in the world and, damn it, can it be February 28, please? This is a serialized story released in both ebook and audiobook. The only way to get the audio is via his website:

HTML links aside, this series promises to be a great read or listen (or, in my case, both). The introductory scene was confusing at first, but that’s probably the point. The scene goes to a dark place rather suddenly, and from the scene’s conclusion it was smooth sailing until … well, the end of the episode.

The author’s narration is faster than most professional audiobooks and that’s a good thing. Actually it has more to do with pacing, but there was never a moment where my eyes wandered several paragraphs ahead to find out what was going to happen next. J.C. narrates at a similar speed in which we [sentient beings] read.

There’s not much to review in terms of story. From what is in the episode, there was never a moment where it seemed to drag on. The beginning may have been a bit slow, but it ramped up quickly and efficiently all the way to the end. And by the time it reached the end, I was completely caught off guard. Time really does fly by when your having fun.

7th Son: Descent (Chapters 2 and 3)

Chapter 2

This is where things get interesting, but not a lot is answered. The listener can now conclude, if they haven’t already, that the seven different kidnappings were part of some larger scheme. What makes this chapter interesting is the POV character, John, who has been selected to be the eyes and ears of the listener. For those playing the home game, John is the guitarist. There is a brief flashback as John looks at a cracked mirror and remembers how it became cracked. As to why it’s included at all, I don’t know. After the flashback scene, Killroy 2.0 enters, but we don’t know that’s his name, because we are looking through the eyes of the character. And he isn’t called Killroy 2.0 in the chapter. In fact all the character’s names remain a mystery to John. And even though the listener knows, or should know, all the names from the previous chapter, there is a sense of mystery about them. It’s almost as if J.C. hit the reset button on the story. But instead of it feeling like you died and have to restart from the last checkpoint, it adds to the mystery with out stopping the flow of the story.

The mystery was not just who these people are, but also how they are related. I think it’s hard to pull off a double mystery that is compelling and believable all in one chapter, but J.C. Succeeds in doing just that.

Chapter 3

The chapter is from the POV of a newly introduced character, Kenneth Kleinman. He knows exactly what’s going on and withholds that information from the listener for as long as possible. Until someone asks, “The billion dollar question.” That question being, “are we brothers?” and not “why are we here?” Even after listening to the entire podcast novel and knowing how events play out, I was still surprised that that was the question Kleinman was referring to.

Hutchins goes back in time after the first scene is done in order to tell the history of John Michael Smith starting from his inception. This would be mere telling, but J.C. intertwines that brief flashback seamlessly to the current narrative. It was as if it was a long dialogue-induced info dump that never happened. That part blew my mind at how simple it was, but at the same time creative.

The rest of the chapter plays out in this way and ends with the clones finding out why they’ve been summoned. Which was kind of weird way to end a chapter as I was more fascinated by the science and technology mentioned in the chapter. I mean Hutchins introduced us to it and then sort of went: oh yeah, by the way we need you to stop the person you were cloned from. It changed subjects to quickly. But, still a good chapter nonetheless.

7th Son: Descent (Prologue and Chapter 1)


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?

Chapter 1

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.