Day 7

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Cell 7. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Day 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of the Cell 7 trilogy, following Cell 7 (2016) and preceding Final 7 (2018). As the novel picks up exactly where the previous instalment left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Martha has been found innocent and freed from Death Row but it has come at a terrible cost. To save her, Isaac admitted that he was the one who shot Jackson Paige. Now, he has taken her place in the Cells and will certainly be executed in seven days. After all, how could the public possibly declare him not guilty when he has openly admitted to the crime?

As Martha returns home with Eve and Max, she quickly learns that all of her efforts have been for nothing. All copies of her evidence against Jackson have been destroyed and the public now believe that she is simply a liar. She may have escaped execution but her trial-by-public continues, helped by reports that she is dangerously unstable. It seems that someone at the top wants Martha to go away and will gladly hurt her allies to achieve this.

On the run and wanted by the authorities, it seems that there is little that Martha can do to save Isaac. However, she is then approached by an unexpected person who claims that they can help. Patty – Isaac’s adopted mother – claims that she has her own reasons for wanting Isaac to go free and can provide Martha with the means to save him. However, can Martha trust her or is this just another trap?

I must admit that I was not optimistic that I would enjoy Day 7. As you may remember from my review of its prequel, I liked the concept of Cell 7 but was not totally sold on its execution. However, I am very pleased to report that Day 7 is certainly a stronger novel. It still had its share of issues, but it at least made me want to read on and learn how everything will end.

If you enjoyed Cell 7, chances are very high that you will also enjoy this book as it is basically its carbon-copy. The only real difference of note is that the roles have been reversed. Now, Martha is on the outside and Isaac has taken her place on Death Row. Yet, despite this, I did enjoy Day 7 a whole lot more. I think that it is because the concept has had more time to grow. Less time is spent on expositing the state of things, which allows for more to be spent building character and escalating to a nail-biting finale.

Day 7 provides a thought-provoking exploration into the problems caused by trial-by-media and class division, set in a frightening future United Kingdom where the death penalty is controlled by phone-in votes (which hides corruption, as only the mega-rich can really afford the tariff to call multiple times) and people follow government ruling like sheep. It’s a truly scary idea that feels to be a little close to the vein at a first glance, however I personally felt that it did take this concept to the extreme. Perhaps I am just an eternal optimist, but the lack of dissenters to the status quo felt a bit unrealistic. Even The Hunger Games had rebels. As a person who lives in England, I can safely say that 98% of the population would not be so quick to agree that something is “right” because the Prime Minister says so.

The structure of the novel is still as unusual as it was in Cell 7 and I think that this will divide readers. The chapters are all written in a combination of different styles. Isaac and Martha’s are written in first person. Max and Cicero’s are in third person, and the TV show segments are still written in script format. While I personally still found this a bit disorientating to read, especially as the chapters tended to be very short, I was pleased to see that there were far less chapters set on Death Row this time around. This gave us a lot more time to see the outside world, observing the huge social divide and getting the feel that perhaps the people in the High Rises aren’t quite as content as the government would have people believe.

Although the flow of the novel did slow down around the middle, as Martha toyed with whether or not she would carry out Patty’s plan, it did always keep me guessing. The heavily biased trials of both Eve and Isaac certainly kept me turning the page and I was never quite sure who was going to make it out of the novel. I especially enjoyed the addition of the new game show – Buzz for Justice – which allowed a panel of three to vote on “lesser” crimes. While the tension on Death Row is slow burning, the Buzz for Justice sections allow for quick bursts of tension that were always really exciting to read.

I also liked the way in which the novel made clear that no one was truly free. For all Martha’s optimism that the system could be changed, it would have felt far too unrealistic for her to step back into her old life. For all the supposed fairness of the system, it still painted people as criminals. Even when found not guilty in the eyes of the law, the public were reluctant to accept the innocent, barring them from opportunities and condemning them and their families to lives as second-class citizens.

The novel broke off on an abrupt and highly frustrating cliff-hanger which certainly left me wanting more. Much like the end of Cell 7, it left so many things hanging and even the fate of certain important characters up in the air. Yet, unlike the previous instalment, it did contain a note of hope. Though anything could still go down in Final 7, I was at least left optimistic that perhaps the status quo could be overturned after all.

In terms of characterisation, Day 7 was also a lot stronger. While I would have liked to have seen more development for Isaac, as he purely seemed to be defined by his love for Martha, the other characters received some powerful arcs. The relationship between Max and Eve is really put to the test as he learns the truth about his father’s execution and Martha is forced to find the strength to keep going in a world that now hates her.

However, it was Joshua who I felt had the best development. The strain that his position as presenter of Death is Justice exerts on him is truly felt throughout the novel, especially as it becomes clear that people higher up are constantly trying to prevent him from speaking his mind. His struggle is always understandable, especially as the reader comes to see how the net that the government has cast is tightening around him. His final rebellion is incredibly satisfying, though left me worried about what consequences this will have in Final 7.

So, all in all, Day 7 is not perfect but is a step in the right direction. While it is almost a clone of the first book, it did spend a lot of time developing the concepts and characters and built to a really exciting climax. I am very curious to see where Drewery will take this in Final 7.

Day 7 can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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