Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher
Published by Angry Robot Books, August 2012
Provided by publisher for review.
Review by N.E. White.
Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher is the author’s second book with Angry Robot Books. On the heels of Mr. Christopher’s first book (Empire State), Seven Wonders tells the tale of several superheroes trying their best to avoid saving the mythical City of San Ventura.
Set in a fictitious town in southern California, Seven Wonders introduces us to Tony Prosdocimi; a regular guy, nothing special. Except for the fact that at the ripe age of 23, he has suddenly developed superhuman powers. Powers just like the Seven Wonders, a team of superheroes that supposedly protect the City of San Ventura from the last supervillain on earth, The Cowl.
During a bank heist, Tony meets The Cowl for the first time and does a rash thing – he tries to save the innocent bystanders by running at The Cowl at super speed and flying off into space with the villain.
And it works! Tony manages to save the day, though he does pass out when they reach too high an altitude and both he and The Cowl plummet into the ocean. However, despite Tony’s good deed, he has just run afoul with two of the city’s protectorates, the San Ventura Police Department (SVPD) and the Seven Wonders.
After this, the story then follows a myriad of protagonists and antagonists vying to either save the city, save their own skin, or hold the city hostage for some unsaid reason. In the midst of it all, a regular guys ends up being the last thing he thought he’d be, a cop’s dead body get’s hijacked by an alien, and the world is indeed saved – but not safe.
I would tell you more about the story line, but to be honest, I’m having a hard time summing it up because I can’t really say what the plot was. To say that Mr. Christopher’s book is ‘all over the map’ is an understatement. Though I enjoyed the clear writing, the spectacular scenes, and the sheer imagination of the author, I had to force myself to finish this book. And the ending just left me in a WTF?-sort of stupor.
For me, the book’s major failing is the ever shifting point of view. The book starts out with Tony, and then shifts to SVPD’s finest Sam Millar and Joe Milano, The Cowl, Blackbird, Bluebell, Aurora, back to Tony, back to Sam, The Cowl again, SMART, Dragon Star, and a few others just to mix it up a bit. I’m sure I didn’t get the order right, and there’s nothing wrong with including lots of characters while telling the story from all these character’s point of view, but when the shifts occur mid chapter and deliberately move to another character to increase tension, it becomes very contrived very quickly and didn’t appeal to this reader.
There were other things about the book that bugged me. For instances, a plot that had so many twists it made me think the author must have made it up as he went along. Or the hokey way all the non-supers got carried around in bubbles so that they could be part of the super-action. Or the inexplicable turn-around of The Cowl because of his new found faith in God. But all would have been forgiven, if we would have stuck to Tony, Sam, The Cowl, Blackbird, Dragon Star, or even the Statue of Liberty. Hell, just pick one, anyone, but not all.
After looking at how well received the book has been by others, I feel that I might be doing the book some disservice. Mr. Christopher has crafted a unique story with some great super-action sequences and finely imagined characters. Each one is worthy of an entire book of their own. For this one reader, pitting them all together just didn’t work. If you like your superhero stories with a lot of action and outlandish plots, Seven Wonders might work for you.
N.E. White, September 2012.