Amy’s Reviews || Cells by Julia Cowan

When James Hall wakes up in a dark, doorless, concrete box with no clue of how he got there or where “there” is, he has no idea that this is just the beginning of his problems. The truth unravels itself slowly: this is an unofficial, covert prison designed by two twisted minds to remove offenders off the streets and cleanse their neighborhood.

Surviving the cells is just step one. James will be forced to make impossible decisions, and in the end, it may just ruin him and everyone around him.

Image taken from Amazon.

Style and Length:

Cowan’s style is IMPECCABLE. It’s simple enough that I wasn’t bogged down by language, but at the same time, it was incredibly eloquent. The descriptions were very well-written and the emotion was very clear with each twist and turn of the story.

It’s an average length book. I started earlier in the week but didn’t really have a chance to start reading until Saturday morning.

I finished in a day, y’all. That’s how fantastic this book was. I was absolutely blown away.

I did have a slight issue with some of the POVs. I was thrown off when we starting jumping from one character’s POV to the next because James, the main character, seems to have a variety of nicknames. His father calls him Jim, Jimbo, and James. So, in some chapters, I struggled to know who was talking. It didn’t last forever, though. I cleared myself up pretty fast. So, this issue might be chalked up to me just being an occasional idiot.

Whatcha gunna do about that?

Character Development:

Cells has a fair amount of characters! There’s James (the main character and inmate of our “prison”), David and Joseph (the creators of the prison), Craig, Chris, Simon, Emily, Jill, Sally… The list goes on. Normally, I wouldn’t have an issue juggling characters. But this is a FAST read– chalk it up to the action of the story. I did have to slow down sometimes and really think about who was who. Again, we can blame that on the SPEED which I read this book.

I really liked the development of James through out the book and how well he handled all of the issues thrown his way! He’s a phenomenal main character. I’m glad the end worked out the way it did for him.

The two antagonists– David and Joseph– are also very well written. The balance between powerful David and meeker Joe works out good for the dynamic of the story. I don’t know what it is with me reading books with villains I sympathize with, but I can’t seem to avoid them here lately. I genuinely felt bad for these two men! Surprisingly enough, I felt more for David! Please, note: I don’t condone making a torture prison for anyone.

I did have one issue with the characters, though. Joe/Joseph started out as a follower: shy and submissive. He stays this way throughout the first half of the story, but after a certain event I won’t spoil, he seems to… stop being scared of David? It’s a bit sudden. The dynamic changes between them, and I really didn’t like it. Joseph starts giving the orders. I’m not really 100% why it didn’t sit well with me, but it didn’t.



I am a huge Saw fan– you know, the movie franchise. I love the intertwining story plots, the torture prisons, the gore, the “justified villain” aspect, ALL OF IT.

Cells reminds me of Saw! I could see myself reading this book over and over just for fun. It’s also the first story I started taking notes on while I was reading! I was on the edge of my seat, audibly gasping, stopping to tell my husband what I thought would happen, complaining about my mistaken predictions…. I loved every bit of it. Honestly. I have nothing negative about the plot, y’all. It was just…

Favorite Quote

“We are all prisoners; some walls are wider apart than others.”

You can buy Cells by Julia Cowan here! I’m giving it a big ole 9.5 out of 10.

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