Book Review: Mickey7 • Edward Ashton

“What difference does it make if he replaces them one by one, or if he replaces them all at once?”

About Mickey7

Series: Mickey7 (yes, it’s a series now) (as well as an upcoming movie, apparently)

Length: 288 pages

Genre: Science fiction

Released On: February 15, 2022

Book Description

The Martian meets Multiplicity in Edward Ashton’s high concept science fiction thriller, in which Mickey7, an “expendable,” refuses to let his replacement clone Mickey8 take his place.

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

× 5 / 5 stars

So, like, I know that I said I’d read Children of Ragnarok next – and I am! But, this review has been languishing for a while – I read Mickey7 a few months ago (*cough* When-It-Came-Out-And-No-I-Don’t-Want-To-Talk-About–It* cough*), so I thought that it was finally time to release this.

Let’s get into how I felt about this book, because this book made me feel.

Pros

  • The Characters

The strongest aspect of this book was definitely the characters. Mickey Barnes, both 7 and 8, were both very compelling characters; though Mickey7 was our main protagonist, and the one whose POV we followed throughout the story.

I really liked Mickey, he was blunt and sassy, and he was a history major. A history major. Who doesn’t love that? Especially with how out of place it is in a sci-fi setting, wherein it’s just a tad useless. (Mickey realizes the irony, don’t worry.) In fact, his poorly chosen college major (sorry, all history majors. I sincerely promise I’m not dunking on you. I was very nearly a history major myself.) is the conduit to many of the events of the plot.

But the real highlight of Mickey’s character is definitely his personality. His sass is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it prevalent in his dialogue, but throughout his entire narration, as well. And it never gets old

I’m not the most sensitive person, but I’ve been alive long enough to figure out that telling a miserable person about how much worse things can be is usually a bad idea.

The banter and relationship between the two Mickeys is also extremely compelling and interesting. Are you still the same person if there’s suddenly two of you? If you’re missing some of the memories that another you has, how different are you really? Are you the same individual you were seven or eight clones ago? The existentialism focused on in Mickey7 is as fascinating as it is soul crushing.

Regarding the rest of the cast: I quite liked them. Berto was a fun best-friend-type character who plays off of Mickey’s wit pretty well, as well as his differing skills and interests. You also understood very clearly why these two were friends, which is something that some books don’t establish very well. So kudos to that.

Nasha is also amazing. She’s introduced as Mickey’s girlfriend, but immediately feels like so much more. She’s awesome, not just cuz she’s a badass, but because of how committed to her and Mickey’s relationship. As difficult as being an Expendable is for Mickey – with the whole dying horribly over and over again thing – Nasha has to deal with this externally. She continues an extremely intimate relationship with him, despite the fact that he might suddenly no longer be the same man that he was the day before (literally). But she just takes everything in stride and gives everything she has to their relationship, just like Mickey. It should be noted that their dialogue together is also amazing.

The other characters were also great, though I don’t find them nearly that notable. The human antagonist was decent, too, and I loved the verbal shiz he and Mickey constantly flung at each other. Also, the giant space worms were pretty cool too, I guess.

  • The Setting

Ashton manages to create a richly built world (worlds? universe?). The ship that is most of the setting feels so vivid, and the entire atmosphere of Niflheim – the land and the alien creatures – are so richly described.

I also like the emphasis on how it’s so far in the future, that history and our modern era (Mickey7’s past) are irrelevant. It almost feels like a fantastical space opera, in some ways.

Cons

  • The World Building

I know, I know. I just mentioned how much I loved the setting and all that, but I didn’t care as much for how it was actually built. The switching between “past” and “present” chapters kind of prevented me being as completely drawn in as I would’ve liked.

And there was also a lot of superfluous exposition, particularly in the “past” chapters, which really kept me from getting as into those as I would’ve liked. I found myself skimming several paragraphs at a time, and I still didn’t miss anything. Don’t get me wrong, some of the background was pretty cool. I just wish it hadn’t been so info dumpy at times.

  • The Plot

It wasn’t as strongly focused on as it could’ve been, but that’s the drawback of a mostly character focused narrative. I’m not disappointed about this at all, actually, but it could technically be considered a weak point of the book, so I put it here for that reason. That’s also why this part is so short and sweet – nothing really positive or negative about it, honestly.

Final Thoughts

Mickey7 was an enjoyable little read, perfect for a free afternoon or (preferably) late at night when the existentialism hits you harder. It balances snappy dialogue and humor masterfully with the more serious aspects of the narrative.

I definitely recommend to those who like sci-fi, but more soft sci-fi. Like I said, the world building is okay, but it’s not as grand as many hard sci-fi epics out there. This is a very character driven story, and the novel is very aware of this, and does this part very well. So if you like character focused stories, you’ll probably like Mickey7, too.