Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ebook Review: Superheroes Anonymous

Everybody in Chicago has a “superhero sighting” story. So when a villain attacks editorial assistant Gail Godwin and she’s rescued by superhero Blaze, it’s a great story, and nothing more. Until it happens again. And again.

Now, the media has dubbed her Hostage Girl, nobody remembers her real name, and people are convinced that Blaze is just Gail’s boyfriend Jeremy in disguise. Gail’s not so sure. All she knows is that when both Jeremy and Blaze leave town in the same week, she’s probably doomed. Who will save her now?

But when the villains miraculously lose interest, Gail is able to return to her life…until she wakes up strapped to a metal table by a mad scientist who hasn’t read the news. Escaping, and now more than human herself, she’s drawn into a secret underground world of superheroes. She’ll have to come to terms with her powers (and weakness) to make it in the new society, and it’s not easy. After all, there’s a new villain on the rise, and she has her sights set on the one and only Hostage Girl.

This is going to sound weird, but Gail should really talk to Emp from EMPOWERED.  They can discuss being Hostage Bait and maybe start a union for folks who get taken hostage frequently. To be fair, once Gail gets powers this is less of an issue...Emp kind of became hostage Bait after getting her powers.  I still think they'd have a lot to talk about though.

What happens when a hero decides to switch cities to protect, but forgot to send that memo to one of his villains who's been incarcerated for a few years? Well that hero's favorite hostage gets to gain super powers, lose a mind numbing job and oh yeah - a great beach bod without any of the workout.

Or she dies horribly after being hooked on some super villain drug.  It could have gone either way for Gail.

Throughout superhero lore there's almost always that one certain person that the superhero always seems to be saving.  The most (in)famous being Lois Lane to Metropolis' Superman.  Villains of all sorts gleefully kidnapped her throughout the long history of the comic/tv/movie franchise.  Gail is her sister in spirit, having found herself inexplicably targeted by most of (if not all of) Chicago's illegal minded betheren?  Is it because everyone assumes her boyfriend is really the city's patron hero Blaze (not the theory she ascribes to)?  Does Blaze have some sort romantic interest in her (even though he never says a single word to her during his routine savings)?

Let's just say the reality of the situation fits in with the rest of Gail's really bad luck throughout the novel.

I went into this expecting a fun, humorous romp and that's what I was given, plus so much more.  Gail, and the reader, gets to see first hand what happens when you're suddenly given super powers and let me tell you its not as advertised.  So don't go chasing radioactive waste or allowing mad scientist's use you as a guinea pig. 

Like anything else being a Superhero isn't all its cracked up to be.  Saving lives, busting the bad guys, looking cool while doing it...that's all after some intense training, lots of meetings and dealing with some very heavy egos running around.  Its really more about managing expectations then anything else.  Heroes are expected to have a certain mystique and by golly that's what they're given.  So when a villain decides to go to the TRULY dark side and screws with the rulebook...things get ugly.

I liked Gail for the most part.  She's down to earth and responds to her ever changing situation remarkably well.  Her biggest worry isn't usually whether she'll die or not (by in large her captors tend to have less need for her dead and more need for her alive), but if her company's insurance will continue to cover her.  Being kidnapped weekly? Huge insurance liability.  Plus she's sarcastic, hardworking and sees the good in people (or situations).

Though I gotta admit her last decision in the end?  I wanted to wring her silly super powered neck. 

Our cast of characters ranges from only kind of given personality (like Guy's brother) to being murky as dishwater with their motivations (I'm still not convinced Jeremy isn't two shades short of turning dark just to get some damn recognition...or at least control over his life).  The archetypes are well know and played off here to various degrees, especially as Gail sees their "real" lives and is surprised by the differences.

What worked less for me was the journalist thread that wove in and around the rest and ultimately informed the ending sequence.  It just honestly made so little sense to me that Gail would do that.  She knew first hand what could happen (on several personal experience levels) and yet she chose the naive path.  With crippling dread I read with only the mildest of hope that it would be okay.  Though I did start hurling insults at the people on the last page for being presumptuous and stupid, on behalf of Gail who was shell shocked, so that at least means my emotions were thoroughly invested right?