Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review: 7 Souls by Barnabas Miller & Jordan Orlando

7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 384
Received: Library
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars 


From Goodreads: 

Mary expected her seventeenth birthday to be a blowout to remember, courtesy of her best friends, fellow New York City prepsters Amy and Joon, and her doting boyfriend, Trick.

Instead, the day starts badly and gets worse. After waking up in a mortifying place with a massive, unexplainable hangover, Mary soon discovers that nobody at school is even aware that it's her birthday. As evening approaches, paranoia sets in. Mary just can't shake the feeling that someone is out to get her—and, as it turns out, she's right. Before the night is over, she's been killed in cold blood.

But murder is just the beginning of Mary's ordeal. Her soul gets trapped in a strange limbo, and she must relive the day of her death through the eyes of seven people—each of whom, she finds, had plenty of reasons to hate her. As Mary explores the mysteries of her world, discovering secrets that were hidden in plain sight while she was alive, she clings desperately to the hope that she can solve her own murder, change the past, and—just maybe—save her own life.

With its blend of suspense, horror, fantasy, and realism, 7 Souls is an adrenaline rush of a thriller.


Why isn’t she dead yet?

I loved the idea for this story, but the execution left something to be desired. You're told from the outset that Mary dies, so I was expecting a short chapter or two run through of her last day and then she'd die early on and we'd get to the untangling the mystery through the eyes of others part of the story. Unfortunately, my expectations were way off base and this negatively affected my enjoyment. Mary doesn't die until page 179. One hundred seventy nine! That's half of the book just to get to the "hook" of the story described in the jacket flap!

Kill me now

Written in the third person and with absolutely massive chapters, I found this book tiresome, especially since Mary isn't the most likable character. She's shallow, mean, and kind of dumb, so listening to her whine about how none of her friends are mentioning her birthday when *I* wouldn't ever want to be her friend let alone throw her a party was almost torturous to read. 

I know we're not supposed to like Mary, but all I can say is the authors did an excellent job in making her easy to despise. I hated her from the first page to the last page. None of the other characters are any better, especially Mary's boyfriend Trick. He's completely vile. 

The part right before Mary dies is suspenseful and reads like a fun slasher flick. I was finally engaged at this point, though, admittedly, a large part of me was into it because I knew Mary was finally going to get killed and I couldn't wait to see that happen. Once she dies, things started to pick up and the book became a lot more interesting.

Here we go now

During the possessions, Mary not only sees what happened that day through the eyes of someone close to her, but she also shares the person's memories of crucial events involving Mary herself. The memories were interesting and provided clues toward the mystery of who killed Mary. As it turns out, a lot of people had motive (heck, *I* had motive!).

The way the mystery unfolds in this half was suspenseful and fun to piece together. Best yet, the truth about Mary's death is (at least to my experience) completely original and I found it easy to accept once all of the pieces are revealed. I never saw it coming. I really liked the ending and would almost raise the book up to three stars on the strength of the climax. Almost.

To read, or not to read

The big question is: do I recommend this book? The answer is that I'm not really sure. There was a lot I didn't like about this book, but ultimately the story was unique and interesting and I am glad I pushed through to the end (though I really could have done with a different epilogue, it was beyond horrible!).

I don't recommend against 7 Souls, but I think a bit of advice is in order: The first half of the book is long and boring, but it's riddled with clues that later on will prove very important to solving the mystery. Pay attention to the little details. Nothing is superfluous and all of the things that seem like silly character building are actually relevant to the mystery itself. I wish I had known that going in, as I think I would have enjoyed the first half a lot more if I knew it wasn't just overwriting on the authors' parts.

I’ve seen this book compared to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, but I haven’t read that book so I can’t comment. I was reminded strongly of 7 Souls when I read Rosebush by Michele Jaffe. FYI, this book is a standalone.

 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 


  1. Great honest review Smalls! I was excited about this book but now I am not too sure. I find if a book is really slow in the beginning I find it hard to stick with it.

  2. Good review. It sounds like a really interesting concept, but that it doesn't quite work out right. Love the "why isn't she dead yet?" It does sound odd that the book didn't really begin until about 1/2way through. It drives me crazy when that happens.

  3. I love the cover on this book and it really does sound intriguing. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it so much. I think I'd like to give it a try still though.

  4. LMAO!

    Okay Smalls, I'm gonna do something highly inappropriate and lick your brain. You must have had motive to kill me, because you did!

    Yeah, I'm gonna say this book is probably not for me. Mary doesn't sound appealing in the least, though I kind of feel sorry for her now. And vile is very different from doting, Trick!

    Thanks for your very entertaining thoughts, though. I read your review twice just to laugh again.

  5. Great review! Thanks for the heads up on this book... Judging the summary of the book this sounds pretty great. Good to know it takes so long before the story picks up.

    I still might want to read this though. The concept is still appealing enough for me.

  6. I like your honest review. I've seen this one around the blogosphere. Nor saw it compared to Before I Fall. Interesting! That's funny about the main character being so shallow and you found it torturous to read. I'm not a big fan of prologues and epilogues. I think I'll skip this one.

  7. I really want to read Rosebush, but I'm not sure about this one. I've had a lot of slow reads lately, and I have enough of that right now! Also, I think I'd find Mary tiresome.

    Thanks for the review. I think I'll take this one off my list.

  8. When I read "Why isn't she dead already" I immediately thought of Before I Fall. I'm about the only one on the planet that wasn't moved by that book and I was feeling that days 1-3 could have been left out. Must be something magical about the number 7. Don't think I'll be reading this one. I'll take your word for it!

    Take care,

  9. Going that far into the book just to get to the blurb action? I'm surprised you stuck with it. I haven't heard much about this one. Maybe if I see in the library I'll pick it up, but I won't go out of my way.

  10. The fact that it is revealed that she is going to die on the jacket only to have her not die until halfway through the book would definitely annoy me too. Still, I do love a good mystery! I'll put this on my "maybe" list to read.

    And LOL! at you having motive to kill the main character :)

  11. Lets begin by saying your review tone brought a big smile to my face. What a great way to start the day off. I got a great chuckle and learned about a book I'd never heard of... heck ya can't beat that!

    As for the book, even though you didn't like it, I think I may. It sounds very similar to Here Lies Bridget and though most people hated it, I had the opposite reaction.

    So, thanks for the honest review, the giggles and for helping me discover another good read!


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