Author’s note: A new experiment for the new year… book reviews! The following may contain mild spoilers.
The Eighth Day by Joseph John is a futuristic thriller with an intriguing theme. After receiving a cryptic warning from a stranger, Shawn Jaffe begins to realize that nothing is as it seems. Haunted by divergent memories and hunted wherever he goes, he finds himself drawn into a desperate race to separate the truth from the lies of his own life.
What I liked:
- The protagonist, Shawn, is a likeable character especially in the second half of the book. I was surprised to find myself genuinely pulling for him despite some rather shocking moments in his character arc… moments that left me wondering if there was any hope for him as a person. But hope is a surprising element in this story. Shawn is considerate, proactive, selfless… and ultimately, these are the traits that define his true character.
- The story is set in the U.S. in 2041 and 2044… in other words, 20-25 years in the future. I was impressed with how science and technological advances were portrayed… self-driving cars, everything digital, etc. As I was reading, I kept thinking that it all seemed slightly far out, yet strikingly believable.
- I didn’t expect this story to have a happy ending… but the final chapter was more satisfying than I ever thought it could be.
- “You have a soul. A good soul. Don’t ever forget that.” To me, this is the theme summed up in a single line of dialogue. Human cloning is a major plot device/ scifi element in this story, but the author deals with it in a way that feels refreshing. It raises the question, What defines a human identity? Is it something physical, mental, emotional? All of those combined? Or something more entirely?
What I didn’t like:
- Language and violence. Not exactly unexpected in a thriller, but there were a LOT of four-letter words, crude expressions, and other profanities throughout the novel. Violence as well… I didn’t care for how it was repeatedly spelled out in such thorough and graphic detail.
- Most of the secondary characters seemed a bit two-dimensional. Some could have been fleshed out more than they were, while others seemed entirely unnecessary.
- Structurally, the novel was divided into several long chapters and each chapter into smaller sections. I think it would have been a quicker, more suspenseful read had it been divided into a bunch of short, punchy chapters. But perhaps that’s just a personal preference.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. It grabbed my attention early and didn’t let go, though at times it was difficult to get through due to the profanity, violence, and long, lumbering chapters. Despite these things, I felt the overall story and especially the ending made it a worthwhile read. I would recommend The Eighth Day for adult readers who won’t be offended by the language and violence and who enjoy a good scifi/suspense story.