3 out of 4 stars
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Seven at Two Past Five by Tara Basi is unlike anything you’ll think to read. A story way off the beaten path, it’s both a satire and a scathing indictment of modern-day judicial systems, banking and finance practices, religion, and the wealthy.
Seven is a button maker. This has been her happy existence for her entire life. She has been educated, but she has no knowledge of the world outside of her daily routine and her button making responsibilities. While sleeping each night, Seven experiences the Terrors, unseen and only vaguely described events that seem to serve no other purpose than to torture her. Until the night that the Terrors disappear. The disappearance of the Terrors is judged to be a willful criminal act committed by Seven and a judgement is levied against her. Seven, believing the judgement and the subsequent punishment are unfair, embarks on a journey to appeal and set the record straight. What follows is an ever-increasingly farcical and labyrinthine trek through the judicial system that ends as quickly and as bizarrely as it began. And everything happens over the course of a single, very long, day.
Seven at Two Past Five takes a hard look at the nature of humans and the consequences of what we’ve done with free will. Tara Basi’s interesting take on a very old concept combines philosophy with technology in an intricate dance that both raises deep philosophical questions and sends the reader spiraling on a wild adventure. Seven is both a sympathetic and unreliable narrator, coming across as both clueless about what is happening to her, and insistent upon determining her own fate. Like a Russian doll, Seven at Two Past Five dives deeper and deeper into Seven’s psyche, compelling the reader to be an active participant in her final judgement. The last chapter serves to tie everything together, and leaves the reader asking, “Did any of that just happen?”
Seven at Two Past Five is by far one of the strangest and most unique stories I’ve ever read, and I will be thinking about it for quite some time. What I truly enjoyed the most about this book is how absurdist Seven’s journey is, and how relatable and applicable each level of lunacy is to today’s life. Ms. Basi also includes small quirks that feel like little gifts for the reader. For instance, Seven speaks differently than any of the other characters. I won’t spoil how Ms. Basi accomplishes this, but once you see it, you’ll chuckle to yourself as if you’ve become part of an inside joke.
What I found the least enjoyable about this book was that there are sentences that, while grammatically correct, do not flow within the context of the story. This occurs often enough that reading the book can feel, at times, exhausting. Despite a very small handful of grammatical errors (dropped commas or a missing word), this book does appear to be professionally edited, which leads me to believe that the sentence structure is there intentionally to contribute to the overall tone and feel of the story.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. I did not give it four stars due to the grammatical errors and the difficult sentence structure. But the originality of the story and the desire to find out what happens in the end reveal an author in love with her craft and a story that demands your attention. If nothing else, Seven at Two Past Five has made an impression on me.
I would categorize Seven at Two Past Five as Macbeth by Shakespeare meets Dante’s Inferno meets the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. If it hasn’t already, this book will certainly find a niche following with readers searching for something wholly unique, twisted, funny, and surprisingly profound.
Seven at Two Past Five
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