7th Son: Descent, the novel by J.C. Hutchins, has a whole backstory and life of its own, most of which I won’t try to document for you. Go to jchutchins.net, ask around the Podiobooks scene, see what his fans are saying, and you’ll get a better version of it than I can give. Basically, as I recall it (ie: without going back and re-reading stories I’ve heard dozens of times in the last couple years), he wrote a book that was too long and which he couldn’t find a publisher for (both are common problems, and not necessarily a measure of quality), and decided to join the few people (at the time) who were podcasting audio versions of their books for free, breaking his book into a trilogy and putting it online. J.C. Hutchins is excellent at marketing and self-promotion and, over several years, built a very large following and used that platform to get a publishing deal with St. Martin’s Press, which has so far put out two of his books, this one and Personal Effects: Dark Art.
In 2008 I tried listening to 7th Son, as read by J.C. Hutchins for Podiobooks.com, and couldn’t even finish the first episode. This was partially because I was trying, for the first time, to listen to podcasts while working at home – when working at my last day job, I could listen literally all day without trouble; I found in 2008 that my current work mostly doesn’t allow for it. (I’ve recently been changing my working conditions somewhat, and have listened to a podcast audiobook or two while painting, so maybe I’ll get back to all the podcasts & audiobooks I paused in March, 2008.) It was partially because J.C. Hutchins’ voice is difficult for me to listen to. It was partially because the hook (4-year-old psychopath assassinates the president & uses swears!) didn’t hook me (actually, it was almost silly enough I quit in the first few minutes). It was partially because of the writing quality & tone of the next 25 minutes of the first episode. Anyway, I didn’t finish it and never managed to go back to it.
When Personal Effects: Dark Art was about to come out, in summer 2009, buying into the hype and all the rave reviews from the army of adoring fans that J.C. Hutchins was a good writer, not to mention that I’ve been following ARGs since I was a Cloudmaker from day 1 of The Beast, I pre-ordered a copy of PE:DA. I listened to the episodes of the Personal Effects: Sword of Blood prequel podcast story which were available at the time of PE:DA’s release with my wife, then read PE:DA aloud to her and went through the materials and websites with her, then asked J.C. Hutchins whether he would prefer me to avoid writing a 2-star review, since I didn’t want to hurt the sales of a fellow podcast author (or damage my standing in the very clique-ish podcasting community). Then I didn’t write a review.
Based on my experience with PE:DA, I decided not to pay for 7th Son: Descent until/unless I’d read and/or listened to it. So I requested that my library buy a copy, and I checked it out. And I let it sit on my shelf for a couple of months, renewing it without picking it up until someone else in town placed a request for it & I couldn’t renew it any more. It’s due back tomorrow, so, today I read the whole book. As I read it, I updated my progress on Goodreads. (warning: spoilers) Here are my updates:
- @ page 1/356: Trying to keep my expectations super-low, to avoid nigh-inevitable disappointment & frustration
- @ page 62/356: Time to stop for breakfast.
- (on twitter, probably on page 62): Have I mentioned I don’t like thrillers?
- @ page 106/356: As a fan of Dollhouse, it’s hard to like this, even knowing it came first.
- (on twitter, page 184/356): @rkalajian Note: It is distracting to see names of people I know, like yours, peppering the book.
- @ page 216/356: Lunch break.
- @ page 261/356: I feel like I’ve finally gotten past the prologue & into Act 1. Or into Act 2 of a 5-Act, if you like. Yet almost finished… 🙁
- @ page 279/356: Literally *just* got the stakes, ie: so far we didn’t know more than “villain is probably planning something.” This is ridiculous.
- @ page 319/356: Really? A Nazi? Sigh.
- @ page 356/356: Well, that was something. Most of the writing was better than expected & better than PE:DA, but I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. Continue reading 7th Son: Descent – book review