This is a novel version of a superhero movie, and it pretty well ticks all the boxes for a YA Action/Adventure. Beings with magical powers and names like “Sandtrap, ” “Incognito” and “Cloak.” Disregard for coincidence and continuity of plot. Lots of great action.
The story has the required amount of comedy and quips to keep the story light, but the author knows when to get serious and keep the tension strong. There is also just enough serious thought to give the characters dimension and the story meaning. It’s a bit heavy on the “rah-rah democracy and freedom,” but once again, that is expected in this sort of book.
A good deal of thought has gone into the world building. A very plausible future time line gives the political conflict clout, as it is rooted in problems in present-day international affairs. The sympathy the story evokes for the downtrodden of the developing nation resonates with us, and even some of the worst villains get their moments of explanation of how neocolonialism destroyed their lives.
The best action sequences are the one-on-one battles. Magical characters have closely restricted powers, and the author is careful to keep them on script. So, the man who shoots electrical charges has no other weapon, and when he is matched against a woman who throws bolts of pure energy, the battle becomes a ballet of mayhem as they each duck the other’s attacks.
However unsophisticated the target readership is, an author can’t be allowed to be negligent of standard writing conventions. Use of passive voice takes the immediacy and power out of the action. Poor control of point-of-view breaks our emotional contact with the characters. Plot jumps cut into our concentration.
But these are all minor details, and the average young reader won’t care. This book is not great literature. It’s an easy, entertaining read, recommended for YA readers, especially fans of Superhero movies.
(4 / 5)
This review was originally written for Reedsy Discovery