Jim Brown’s novel, “24/7”, was released in print about a decade ago. The story is constructed around the insanely popular ‘Reality TV’ craze that still dominates our leisure viewing. I thought the plot was interesting when I started the book, and I wasn’t disappointed. That is not to say there weren’t problems, but I can honestly say I’m happy to have read it.
Listened to it, I mean. I found “24/7” on Audible, I listen to audio books while I commute. I remembered Jim Brown from Twitter. We follow each other on Twitter – I want to let everyone know that from the start – but are not really acquainted. I am not reviewing this as a favor, I wanted to listen to something new, and “24/7” looked interesting. Nothing more.
Also, be warned: since I listened while driving, I don’t have notes or a copy of the book to refer back to for details. This will be a general review of my reactions and impressions.
The story took place on a secluded Caribbean Island, where a game show called “24/7” was to be played and broadcast. The protagonist is Dana, a single mom, who joins the show needing to win in order to provide an experimental medical treatment that may save her daughter’s life.
As the show began, the entire TV crew died of a mysterious disease. This left the twelve contestants alone to continue the competition, with a difference. The show was now being run by the mysterious “Control,” who had his own, villainous agenda. The contestants played the game as devised, but instead of being exiled from the island if voted off, they died instantly from a horrible disease.
Another contestant and former Army pilot, Justin, was the white knight. He repeatedly stepped in to save the day, and he and Dana were drawn together as the contest went on and the number of contestants went down.
The story also continued off the Island, with a photographer turned reporter, Tucker Thorn, who tried to unravel the mystery of “24/7” on his own.
At that point, about the middle, I had two observations. First, the character development was nicely done. I could relate to the characters (most of them anyway) and felt they reacted consistently and naturally to situations as they occurred. Second, I knew who the accomplice was (though I considered the possibility there wasn’t actually an accomplice). The good development of the main characters eliminated them as suspects, making the choice obvious.
Moving along, the contestants faced their challenges and were one by one eliminated, while Tucker went to Washington and continued to work on the mystery there. The story developed well, though a little unevenly in places. The story and action funneled well and eventually converge on the island for the climax. There were even ‘descent into hell’ and ‘brush with death’ elements that are part of classic story structure, which I appreciated.
The conclusion was good. Overall, I thought it was satisfying and I didn’t feel cheated, though a couple of details were a little forced. Good triumphed over evil, and at this point even the antagonist’s story and motives were believable.
I did have some complaints. Parts of the story were a little bit of a stretch. The fact that this wasn’t science fiction made one of the red herrings too obvious, but that wasn’t a huge problem. Some of the character’s actions were a little unbelievable as well. On a few occasions I remember shaking my head in irritation, thinking the author could have made the previous action more believable.
One example was Tucker being lured off a warship, and climbing down a cargo net into an inflatable boat. Having gone over the side of a much smaller troop ship and climbed won a cargo net into a landing craft as a Marine, I had to laugh – too many things made that impossible. But, it was an irritation not a problem.
Something that was a minor problem, from the start, was the generous use of simile. The author used them well – a bad simile is obvious and can really suck. Overall, I was impressed, then over impressed. There were too many, even if they were well done.
I would recommend “24/7.” It was different, and an enjoyable read. I’m not going to give up Nelson DeMille or James Rollins, but I will listen to Jim Brown again if his future works are available on audio.
I can definitely say I would rather read another book by Brown than the new stuff being put out under Ludlum’s franchise, for example.