Red River Seven – A.J. Ryan

Red River Seven by A.J. Ryan
Published by Orbit on October 10, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
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Internationally bestselling fantasy author Anthony Ryan - writing as A. J. Ryan - delivers a nerve-shredding novel in which seven strangers must undertake a terrifying journey into the unknown.
A man awakes on a boat at sea with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. He's not alone - there are six others. None of them can remember their names, but all bear the scars of recent surgery.
When a message appears on the onboard computer - Proceeding to Point A - the group agrees to work together to survive whatever is coming. But as the boat moves through the mist-shrouded waters, divisions begin to form, and the group is plagued by questions. Who is directing them, why have their memories been wiped, and what are the screams they can hear beyond the mist?

Red River Seven by A.J. Ryan follows a group of people with disconnected abilities, stranded on a ship with no idea who they were or why they were there. But surely they’ve been thrown together for a reason, as they’re obviously connected, based off their names. It’s up to them to figure out why…and what it has to do with the creepy mist swirling around them. Red River Seven is a dystopian thriller in which mysteries and dangers abound. The truth, for me, though, is the “high stakes” weren’t climactic enough. Red River Seven dropped the proverbial ball.

The plot was not strong enough, and it took far too long to get anything done. Each individual has different skills, but no history. Because…reasons. Ryan had to figure out a way to give them their abilities without their memories. It also was an easy way out, in my opinion. “I don’t want to develop backgrounds for all these characters, so they’re all just going to have muscle memory!” Which, maybe Ryan did create stories for them. He did mention some, but not very much. The book is written in third person but from the view of the “police officer” character. I don’t understand why he was at the center, and I didn’t like his attitude. Which…maybe that was the point?

I didn’t find a “deadly mist” to be all that original. Amnesia wasn’t either. Overall, I thought the characters to be a bit too similar. The way they stood apart: Lectures/actions from their unique skillsets. The doctor blabs about a medical condition. The historian monologues about…well, history. I felt like the story could’ve done just fine with two or three characters rather than seven. But then the name Red River Seven wouldn’t have worked, would it?

Granted, my opinion of Red River Seven by A.J. Ryan may have been influenced by context. It’s tainted by some…not so pleasant circumstances. I did enjoy…parts of it, though I still don’t understand portions of the story. While I found snippets exciting, I also literally fell asleep in others. Red River Seven probably would’ve held my attention better if I’d listened to it rather than read it, honestly. It’s not that the book is bad. I’ve read far worse this year; that’s for certain. But I’ve read better science fiction, and I’m not inclined to read any more of Ryan’s work.