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July 5, 2021

The Apocalypse Seven by Gene Doucette ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I met Gene Doucette at a conference the first year or so that I was blogging (I was working for an indie press at the time) and he convinced me to read his book Immortal even though it didn't seem like my kind of book. Well, I loved it. It was different and I enjoyed Doucette's writing style. So when I saw he had a new book coming out I was excited. That it was post-apocalyptic was even better because I need a book I can recommend to my book club. The Apocalypse Seven was probably the book I was most disappointed that I didn't get to read in May so as soon as I had room in my schedule I squeezed it in.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Apocalypse Seven
May 2021; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
978-0358418948; audio, ebook, print (432 pages)
science fiction
Admittedly I had high expectations for this book and I wondered if I would be disappointed having built it up so much in my mind. 

The first thing I noticed was again how Doucette puts his own unique spin on a genre. Being part of a post-apocalyptic book club for the last 3 or 4 years, I have read quite a bit in this genre (though not as much as some of the members) and I haven't read one yet that starts with such a quiet, yet quick apocalypse. Usually, there are signs the end is coming, such as a disease spreading quickly, or noisy, such as a meteor or nuclear bomb. The Apocalypse Seven starts with a college freshman waking up later after a late night of partying. At first, he is too disconcerted about the power being out (causing him to be late) and focused on getting to class that it takes him a bit to realize there are no other people. Similar situations occur with the other 6 "main" characters - they wake up thinking life is normal and then realizing something is wrong, very wrong with the world.

The characters are as clueless as to what happened as the readers. Each of them has their own theory and their own reaction to the situation they find themselves in. It is easy for the reader to put themselves in the character's shoes and probably if you woke up and everyone was gone, you would have the same reactions as at least one of these characters.

The book is very much focused on the characters and there is little action as the plot revolves around the characters coming to terms with their situation and surviving. And I'm not going to say much about the plot as I'm afraid I will reveal too much and ruin it for you as the biggest enjoyment I got from reading this was figuring out what happened.

When I read a book, I record my initial reaction immediately after finishing it at Goodreads (you can see my initial thoughts on this book) Those thoughts are what I felt in the moment without thinking too deeply about it. My initial "review" is usually along the lines of wow that was great or good I finished it. When I finished The Apocalypse Seven, my first thought was that as entertainment it was good, though the ending felt a bit rushed.

A few days later I start really thinking about the book in preparation for the review I will write for Girl Who Reads. While I still think it was good entertainment because I kept wanting to come back to it to figure out what happened. It was when I really started thinking about the characters that I started to see some problems.

Five of the characters are in the same town - Cambridge, MA. Two of the characters travel to the city from further away. So the reader gets some information before the characters - that whatever happened isn't isolated to them. I felt that the characters had realistic reactions and that their survival skills were pretty accurate. I liked that one of the characters has a handicap - she is blind. I can't think of another post-apocalyptic story that I read that had a handicapped character. 

While the story is told by all of them with chapters being focused on individual characters and that it is a character-driven story, I felt the characters were not fleshed out as much as they could be. It is like they each serve a certain purpose and that is all they can do and be. I was particularly disappointed with the scientist and it was while thinking about her that I realized how one-dimensional all the characters were. In addition, I can't say any of them showed much growth throughout the book.

As I said in the beginning, I was hoping to have a book to recommend to my book club. We meet this week to set our calendar. Will I recommend The Apocalypse Seven? Yes. I think there is plenty that would provide a good discussion. I know a few of our members probably won't enjoy it but I think a few will like it.

Overall, if you are looking for something that will hold your attention and you will get wrapped up in, then I definitely recommend the book. 

Buy The Apocalypse Seven at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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