Author: Kerry Drewery
Title: Cell 7
Published in Australia by Allen and Unwin. Published in the United Kingdom by Hot Key Books.

About the book

This story of the power of the media, media manipulation and mob mentality is so relevant to today’s world events it is almost scary. Martha Honeydew is in prison for the shooting murder of celebrity Jackson Paige. She was caught with the gun in her hand and confessed to the murder. With the current Seven Days of Justice Law, Martha will be held for a week, moving from Cell 1 through to Cell 7. During her last day the public will vote her innocent or guilty, facing death if found guilty. Jackson Paige is a household name. Coming from the Rises, the poorer part of town, he shot to fame and lived the life of an adored celebrity. Now Martha, also from the Rises, is the first sixteen-year-old to be held on death row. But, as with all gripping murder mysteries, there is more to Jackson Paige. His story, and Martha’s, unfolds as Martha moves through the cells. Martha’s designated counsellor, Eve Stanton, is one of her few allies, and with the help of some unlikely people, tries to get to the bottom of Martha’s confession. The ‘Vote for All System’ is played out through the media. A reality television show airs each evening, Death is Justice, and the public can follow through social media portals and 24-hour television. To vote costs money, and there is no limit to the number of votes one can cast. The purported ‘most democratic justice system in the world, where you, the viewer, decide on the fate of the accused’ (p. 5), is corrupt and easily influenced by those who benefit the most.

This is an incredibly addictive read. The power of money, the media and celebrities is narrated explicitly, while at the same time the reader is trying to solve the mystery, did Martha commit the crime? I first started listening to this on Bolinda Audio book, on loan from a public library, and finished by reading the hard copy. I could not get this story out of my head, it stayed with me during the day and I couldn’t wait to get back in my car to continue listening. The audio book, narrated by Rosie Jones, is well paced and gripping, transferring the written word to the spoken excellently.

This is the first book in a series, the second, 7 Days, is due out this year. Many questions are answered in the Cell 7, and if the 7 Days is anything like this book, we are in for more surprising twists and turns. I can’t wait.

Booktalk

Recommended for grades 8 and older.

Please note: There is some swearing in this book, in context of the characters and situations. The following booktalk includes a word you may not want to read to a class, the choice is yours, it is on page 14.

Read Prologue

Martha Honeydew is jailed, in a system where the public vote whether someone is guilty or innocent. There is no judge and jury, this is the Seven Days of Justice law where criminals are placed in a different cell each day, beginning with cell 1, and when they get to cell 7 the public vote to decide their fate. There is a 24-hour social media presence and a nightly television show commentating the process. She is portrayed as a cold heated killer of a loved celebrity. But Jackson Paige was not loved by all.

Martha is allowed one visitor, Eve Stanton, her designated counsellor. It is not easy for Martha to trust Eve, and not easy for Eve to have the time, and privacy, needed.

Read from paragraph 11, page 11 ‘Eve pushes the box of tissues…’ to page 14, paragraph 7 ‘Too shocked, Eve doesn’t move’.

Did Martha kill Jackson Paige? Why did she say he was a liar, if everyone loved him? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Book trailer

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