Published by Andersen Press on 1st May 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Thriller
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Mila has 7 seconds. 7 seconds to fight. 7 seconds to escape.
Seeking a new life on the futuristic Isles, Mila’s time runs out – she’s captured by Agents, who implant her with a phone that broadcasts her every move. Now she’s on the run, hounded by an elite fighting force who is convinced she poses a dangerous threat to society. Her only advantage: a seven second delay.
It’s a race against time.
**I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.**
I had no idea what to expect with this book, since there are no reviews on Goodreads or anything, and it came out just last week. And what I got was a highly readable and entertaining novel, fast-paced and packed with action, with just the slightest taste of romance.
This book is set in a world not too far in the future, with the European Union and the British Isles as the backdrop, now known as the U and the Isles. The story starts when Mila is crossing the bridge from the continent into the Isles, with a man called Julian, who dies when he falls from the bridge. Mila comes from somewhere in the Eastern U, from a dying city known as Köls, where she struggled to make a living. We find out her backstory through frequent flashbacks: how she grew up in poverty, how she met Julian, how she travelled to the Isles.
Whereas the U is in a state of constant civil war and life there is grim and harsh, everyone in the Isles lives a life of comparative bliss. Everything basic is available for free. And everyone has a phone implanted in their heads, constantly broadcasting their feeds to anyone who wants to watch. Mila travels to the Isles to find peace; but when she loses Julian, she is on her own and left with the mystery of Julian's dying words. Captured by Agents, she's interrogated and implanted with a phone. But as they're implanting the phone, they notice that there's another device in her head – and they think it's a bomb.
Mila's only option is to run.
I thought this book was really elegantly written, especially all the action scenes. And there are plenty of those! This is a book with lots and lots of car chases, chases in general, hand-to-hand combat, explosions, etc, with some pretty gruesome scenes occasionally. The action scenes were just so easy to visualise – the writing glided smoothly along, helping to maintain the heart-thumping pace of the novel.
The pace was slowed by the flashbacks, which made me a bit impatient at times as I was eager to jump back into the action, but I was glad to learn more about Mila's past and gain information about the world that this novel is set in. A world not so different from ours, and not entirely unimaginable. A world where countries like Britain and the US take everything from less wealthy countries, pretending to give them aid that only further benefits their own people instead. There was some interesting social commentary.
I was pleasantly surprised by the characters in this action novel. Mila is awesome. She's intelligent and extremely good at fighting and she's got a sense of humour. She loves doughnuts. She makes a new friend along the way called Holly, who helps her and sees the good in Mila even after she realises that Mila's been labelled a terrorist by the government. I really enjoyed this touch of female friendship in this novel. It was unexpected and refreshing.
Then there's Adam. An Agent, who finds himself wanting Mila to survive against his better judgement. He was a very interesting character, with his own personal conflict and history, and I liked watching the curious relationship between him and Mila slowly develop. It was odd, and I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but as it turns out, it was oddly perfect.
If you're looking for lots of action and a kick-ass heroine, Seven Second Delay might just be the thing you're looking for. I wouldn't say it was particularly memorable, but it's certainly a well-crafted novel in this genre (with the exception of a handful of illogical moments which are not too important in the long run) and a fun way to spend a few hours. For all its scenes of violence, this is a novel filled with humanity and kindnesses and unexpectedly heartwarming moments. It left me smiling and satisfied.