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In the Dollhouse, All Your Fantasies Come True

Erin reviews the ultraviolent Subject Seven by James A. Moore, in which genetically-altered superhumans look to take down their creators.

In the Dollhouse, All Your Fantasies Come True

BOOK REPORT for Subject Seven (Subject Seven Book 1) by James A. Moore

Cover Story: Someone Wants a Movie Deal
BFF Charm: A Resounding Thanks, But No Thanks
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde For the Playground Set
Bonus Factors: Shadowy Government Conspiracies, Ultraviolence, The Incredible Hulk
Relationship Status: I'm Entering Into the Witness Protection System

Cover Story: Someone Wants a Movie Deal

Someone probably HAS a movie deal, actually. This book certainly reads like it's the "script story" for a movie. So maybe the publishers had a "two birds, one stone" thought and just made a cover that looks like a movie poster?

It sort of needs to be Bayified, though. Here, I have done it for them:


The Deal:

When Subject Seven escapes from the secret underground facility in which he has spent his life, it's with not a little bit of violence. He kills about 15 guards and scientists, including the husband of Program Director Evelyn Hope. No one can hope to match his brute strength.

Subject Seven is ten years old.

Fast forward six years. Subject Seven, now calling himself Joe Bronx, is breaking kneecaps and taking names, all in a quest to hunt down Evelyn Hope and destroy her company. He's torturing a young man with amnesia, named Hunter, and gathering together a gang of super-human Hulk-like mutants who were also created by Evelyn Hope's company.

Can they figure out what the shizz is going on? Can they take down Evelyn Hope? Can they stop narrating their thoughts in a way that makes me want to drive dressing pins into my eyes? ONLY TIME WILL TELL. Because, um, this is Book One in a series.

BFF Charm: A Resounding Thanks, But No Thanks

I DO NOT want to be BFF with anyone in this book. Evelyn Hope is a crazy maniacal cold-hearted biatch, and Joe Bronx is a ruthless killing machine with a habit for narrating his life in a way I find annoying. I think I'll pass, but very kindly, so they don't take it in their heads to turn me into a super soldier/disassemble my limbs.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

There actually is some sex in this book (or at least the memories of same), but I was so grossed out with the imagery that I just skimmed over it. I mean, who wants to think about two seven-feet tall muscular, genetically-altered people going at it? I guess if that's what floats your boat, go for it. I mean, it's cool. I'm not about to pass a Defense of Marriage Act declaring that marriage is only between two people who haven't been genetically altered to respond to a kill switch, or anything. I just don't want to think about it in my brainspace.

Talky Talk: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde For the Playground Set

A couple of weeks ago, the ladies of FYA decided we'd be unveiling (soon! hopefully soon!) an alternate "Required Reading" list. (So, like, subbing in actual good YA books instead of crappy Moby Dick when everyone hates.) On first thought, this book could be a contendor for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; I mean, strong and superhuman Ids with the moral compass of a six month old?

But the writing in this is just a little too stilted, a little too self-explanatory, a little too dumbed-down. I am not someone who tolerates being told the same information over and over. People who read YA are not dumb, as we all know here, and I don't want to be written to as if I am dumb. This is the author's first YA novel (he's written several adult lit books), so I get the feeling that he thought he had to dumb down his premise, you know, for the children. Except teenagers are actually CURRENTLY being taught to read critically, and we adults spend most of our time working and paying bills, so which group really needs the dumbed-down books, I ask you?

Bonus Factor: Shadowy Government Conspiracies

Well, I do always love a good government conspiracy. Particularly when the conspiracies are about, like, creating a race of mutant super soldiers, and less when they're about, say, secretly funnelling money to ultra-conservative religious zealots in other countries so that they can oust dictators we may find pesky. And then whining about the consequences of those actions.

Bonus Factor: Ultraviolence

This book has at least one thing going for it: lots o' violence. What can I say? I'm a pugilist.

Bonus Factor: The Incredible Hulk

When I was a baby, my parents would say, "Erin, do Hulk," and I, at the age of seven months, would clench my hands into fists and furrow my brow. Guests would react with delight. I was probably actually just pooping myself, but, hey, pooping on command is still a special skill.

Watching these kids change from mild-mannered David Banner into bulkyLou Ferrigno-a-likes was pretty fun.

Casting Call:

Due to logistics and also my own personal interest, I can only cast one person.

Olivia Williams as Evelyn Hope

Come on, she'd be perfect.

Relationship Status: I'm Entering Into the Witness Protection System

I feel like I've marked myself for death, having come out against this book. My only choice is to enter the Witness Protection System and live a new identity in a home surrounded by garden rakes.

It's not that I didn't enjoy working with this book at times, but even when we were deep in the shit together, I knew we would never be that close. So when I had the chance, I turned State's Witness and ducked out undercover. Hey, maybe this book will reform in the future, and we can work together again . . . but I kind of doubt it.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received this free copy from Penguin. No money or cocktails were accepted for this review (damnit!). Subject Seven is available in stores now.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.