Thursday, 5 March 2015

672 by J.S Lee - Review by Carlyn (Contains Spoilers)

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I was asked by J.S Lee to review their book so here is my review. 672 is a fantasy story set in the future where people live in giant towers after a world war. The towers were built to protect people from attack from other nations. The rich and important people live at the top, the middle class are at the centre and the lower classes are at the bottom. People are allowed to travel around the tower but it depends on their rank on how high they can go. Most people never leave the tower and spend their whole lives in it. The towers are wonderful places to live in for everyone; there is free food, floors devoted to entertainment and free healthcare.

Outside the tower live the piggies , uncivilized people who live out in the wild. Piggies are known for their low intelligence and large weight. The tower inhabitants hate the savages, viewing them as murderous people who would kill tower citizens if they had the chance. The tower inhabitants regularly slaughter piggies and hope to one day kill them all. However, the piggies may not be their enemies at all.

There are two main characters in the story, the first is a teenage girl named Emilia who doesn't remember her past or how she came to the tower. She lives with a room mate named Annie, a sensitive girl who loves watching soap operas. Emilia also has a caretaker named Silver who looks after her welfare. Emilia spends her time by exploring the tower; her favourite places being the zoo and conservatory to view plant life. At times, she is suspicious about life in the tower and fears that something underhanded is happening in secret.

The other main character is John who is a scientist. He  lives in the upper floors of the tower. The president of the tower assigns him the role of creating perfect humans that are beautiful and intelligent. John is married to Penelope who desperately wants a baby and begs him to steal one of his specimens.  

I thought the John character was more developed than Emilia and I liked John more. I thought John’s attitudes, actions and feelings were well described particularly his feelings towards his wife and the women in his life. I did not like how he patronized the women but they were a bit silly and na├»ve. 

 I found that there was a lack of detail on Emilia’s background story. When Emilia learns the truth about her place in the tower, she suddenly has new skills that make her into a good fighter and strategist. I think a flashback needs to be added into the story of Emilia’s past to make it more fleshed out. At first, I liked Emilia for her curiosity and bravery and as the story progressed I found her to be less believable.

I thought 672 was a novel when I first downloaded it but it’s actually a short story. So I was surprised when it ended abruptly and with unfinished business. Overall, I feel that the story is well written and has potential if a few things were fixed. The story feels like it is a very good draft for a novel.  I actually hope that the story is developed further. I would suggest the writer work on putting a bit more realism and detail into the story.

For example *Spoilers*
Emilia, Annie and Eli have never been in the wilderness before and have no camping equipment. Yet, they never complain about being cold or dirty. I thought it was surprising that Annie who is a very sensitive and sheltered person would enjoy camping in the forest.

I was also surprised that Emilia didn’t have the urge to rescue or take revenge. She abandoned the other cropplings and had no interest in the piggies once she was free.
John is ordered to take Emilia and Eli back to the tower after he captures them. The president knows how dangerous Emilia is so why doesn’t he send an armed guard to go get her?

Also , another aspect of the story I found jarring was how the president ordered for baby Olive to be sterile. To achieve sterility, she must drink a substance called milkwood so that she can never fall pregnant. The president orders that Olive will under guard to ensure that she does drink milkwood in the future. I think a better solution would have been to order a hysterectomy or have the child killed because then you don’t have as much doubt. I was surprised that such a ruthless president would not have murdered John, Penelope and Olive and be done with the mess.

I would have liked to have read more about the piggies.  They seemed like really interesting people and it would have been good if there were more interaction with the tower people. The tower people think the piggies are unintelligent but they are actually smarter than they look.


Despite these criticisms, I do believe that J.S Lee is a talented writer. I think J.S Lee was successful in creating a vivid world that is fascinating and sinister at the same time. I just think this story has some flaws that diminish the potential for a great read. 

2 comments:

  1. A very interesting and informative review Carlyn. It seems that Dystopian novels and movies are a huge fad, so their would seem to be a lot of competition for the short story that J.S. Lee wrote. The review made me think of the movie Snowpiercer even though I have not seen the film. It seems that often times Dystopian stories have very sad or difficult endings for several main characters. I think a story that perhaps twisted into something positive in the ending might also set it apart from other such novels/short stories/movies.

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    1. I also have not watched Snowpiercer but I heard that there are different train compartments for everything. So it must have been weird for the underdog heroes to try to get to the front of the train, while going through the school, disco sections etc.

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