"Dude, if it starts affecting your rocket, then it's something you need to look into." -- Carl
Michel Massicotte's 6 for 7 is a grab bag sci-fi story with genius scientists, aliens, and a little bit of government conspiracy mixed in for kicks.
Jalen and Carl, video game playing super-genius engineers, get involved in a "this is the most important thing you'll ever touch" hush-hush government contract. Soon, it becomes obvious that Jalen isn't just a normal super genius but there is something strange about him. Could it be connected to the -- gasp! -- aliens?!
Now, don't get me wrong. The age-old "only you were chosen to be ________" is always a compelling story line.
Heck, that's part of the reason why the "Only you can prevent forest fires" campaign has such high replay value. Sadly, Massicotte shoots himself in the foot in this story on so many levels.
Although the main character Jalen is 29 he is basically a giant teenager. He drinks orange juice instead of beer, hot chocolate instead of coffee, and has wet dreams. (They're "soaked in sweat" dreams, but the parallel is there.) In one scene, Jalen's mom makes him a sandwich, pours him a glass of milk, and then dad comes in to give Jalen "the sex talk." I'm not exaggerating.
I can't tell if his eccentricities are because his genius has overwhelmed his mind or if the aliens are really interested in his beverage choices.
Also, for some reason, every breathing woman is irresistibly attracted to Jalen. Unluckily, the poor boy doesn't know what to do with the adoring throngs of women and nearly vomits at the mere thought of kissing a girl. Jalen seems well suited to a young adult novel about discovering your unconditional, irrevocable love for some supernatural being.
For me, the best character of the book is Carl, Jalen's best friend and coworker. Carl is the brash and opinionated friend you can't help but love even though he's crude and embarrasses you on a regular basis. There is a bit of a bromance going on with Jalen and Carl, which becomes pretty entertaining since they're nearly debilitated by inner turmoil when it's necessary to keep secrets from each other.
Massicotte does a good job working the conspiracy on multiple levels so that it's difficult to know who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.
Unfortunately, the science fiction aspects of this story are not nearly as good as the bromance. Most of the alien related plot is either extremely convoluted or incredibly convenient, which makes the story very inaccessible.
What really cripples the sci-fi plot is that at 75% of the way through the book Jalen is still the ONLY person who doesn't know about the aliens. It's practically an inside joke by the time Jalen learns of his dad's romp in the alien cultural exchange program.
Although the alien plot fizzles, the worst part is that 6 for 7 suffers from a lot of typos. A lot. In many places the text is barely edited from the screenplay and it reads like a mash of disjointed newspaper headlines.
Also, it's often overburdened with details, such as how there are seven named characters on the first page. Seven. I'm thinking this rivals Jane Austen in number of unnecessarily named characters.
At best, I'd describe this as earnest but misguided. I appreciate what he's trying to do, but it just didn't work for me.
Now, a spin-off or prequel about Carl? I'd be interested in that.
Buy 6 for 7