Should she live or die? You decide.
An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.
Now Justice must prevail.
The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions – all for the price of a phone call.
Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV?
There’s something about dystopian novels that are so irresistible to me, and Cell 7 was equally as enticing. When I first heard about it, I knew it was a novel I absolutely had to get my hands on. While Cell 7 was intriguing and definitely sparked an internal debate as to whether every person should have the right to vote whether an accused is guilty or innocent, there were some aspects that I was slightly disappointed about. However, I still felt like this was a really engaging read and I loved being shown how corrupt and dangerous a world with this sort of justice system would look like.
My favourite thing about this novel would definitely be the society on which its founded, which is my most-loved aspect of most dystopian novels, to be honest. It’s set in a world where people can pay for votes and decide the outcome of the trial of someone accused of a crime, and where these people who are accused are on ‘Death Row’ for seven days before being announced as innocent or guilty by the public. During this time, they are placed inside a different cell each day and are watched by the public, their every move being critiqued and analysed. Seeing how this society operated was such an intriguing part of Cell 7 and I felt that the world-building was absolutely fantastic, allowing me to become submerged in this frightening vision of what our society could look like.
I found myself caught up in the action from the very first page, unable to escape the entrancing grasp of this fast-paced novel. The first half of this novel was impossible to put down and I finished every chapter desperate for more information. However, just after the half-way mark, I found the pacing start to slow and I found myself not as drawn to the plot. I think the main reason why this occurred is because the majority of this novel is fairly repetitive, which one of our characters stuck inside a cell and other parts of the book being a broadcast from the same TV program nightly. While these aspects were initially incredibly fascinating, the constant switching between these points of view was slightly exhausting and I desperately just wanted to follow the development of one particular character and not necessarily all of them in such detail.
Although, I felt that one of the strengths of this novel was its writing style. I liked how it deviated from the norm of most YA novels, which tell the story from the point of view of one character in a linear progression, and it was refreshing to see these different aspects being written in different ways. It’s hard to fully explain until you pick up the book, but there’s times when we follow the life of Martha, other times when we follow the life of her ‘counsellor’, and other times when we get to read the transcript of a TV program about Martha’s trial. I definitely understood the author’s choice in choosing to write in this format as having the novel written in first person from Martha’s perspective the entire time would be quite slow in parts, and we really needed the other viewpoints to contribute to the tense atmosphere that made us question what we initially thought to be true.
Possibly the biggest disappointment of this novel was my inability to fully connect with the characters. As there was such a big emphasis placed on the plot, I felt as though the characters were not as developed as they could have been and I wasn’t given enough time to get to know them because of the constant movement between different points of view. While I enjoyed reading about the action from different perspectives as it gave us a more rounded and full insight into this society and allowed the mystery to be more intense, I would have liked to have been able to empathise more with our main character through the development of her personality more through her present situation and not just unreliable snippets of her memory.
Another outstanding aspect of this novel is its ability to manipulate your thoughts and change your opinion through the nuances, hidden suggestions, and lack of clarity in the information that’s being portrayed. I began reading this novel being fairly confident that I knew where it was heading, only to be thrown off course on a multitude of times because of the introduction of new information or new characters. I loved not knowing who I could fully trust and having to make my own judgements about the characters and not rely on another’s interpretation of them. After all, this was a world where the media could effectively decide upon who lives and who dies because of the way they choose to present a particular case. The realistic way it was written provided a chilling echo of what our own society could one day become. For the sake of the human race, I really hope it doesn’t though.
Ultimately, Cell 7 is a tense and thought-provoking novel that prompts the reader to consider the implications of living in a world where everyone had a say in who lived and who died. The unique and intriguing plot and the relatively fast pacing is sure to take you on a frightening journey where lies, twists and powerful revelations are lurking around every corner.
Have you had the chance to pick up Cell 7 yet? Does this one sound like a novel you’d be interested in? Do you read a lot of dystopians? What’s your favourite genre? Have you read any other books with a similar narrative style? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Title: Cell 7
Publication date: October 2016
Publisher: Bonnier, Hotkey
Australian RRP: $19.99