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Soon I Will be Invincible Paperback – June 10, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 284 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The realm of comic book heroes and villains gets a dose of realism in this whimsical debut from game design consultant Grossman. The story shifts between the perspectives of Doctor Impossible, a brilliant scientist turned world's greatest menace, and Fatale, a lonely cyborg and the newest addition to the venerable group of heroes known as the Champions. Though he's been out of commission for a while, Doctor Impossible hatches a scheme to knock the planet out of orbit ("As the Earth grows colder, my power becomes apparent, and the nations submit," he reasons). Meanwhile, Champions leader Corefire goes missing, and Fatale has to learn the ropes of superherodom as the conventional climactic showdown (at Doctor Impossible's secret lair) draws near. However fantastical, the characters (including a "genetic metahuman" and "an elite fairy guard") are thoughtfully portrayed, with Fatale—stuck in a perpetual existential crisis—bemused over the Champions' purpose, and Doctor Impossible wondering "whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life." Grossman dabbles in a host of themes—power, greed, fame, the pitfalls of ego—in this engrossing page-turner, broadening the appeal of an already inviting scenario. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Austin Grossman, Berkeley grad student, game designer, and comic-book connoisseur, offers a fresh take on the hidden realm of contemporary superheroes. Critics compare the novel favorably to Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude, the prime-time, sci-fi soap opera Heroes, and the animated big-screen hit The Incredibles. Although the plot and Grossman's sense of humor wear thin for some critics, Soon I Will Be Invincible is certainly a worthwhile diversion, a flight of fancy with heart, and the perfect vehicle for a sequel. Even Impossible's voice has the ring of truth-in a world-weary, villainous sort of way, of course: "Once you get past a certain threshold, everyone's problems are the same: fortifying your island and hiding the heat signature from your fusion reactor." Impossible's aphorism contains as relevant a metaphor for life as a reader is likely to find anywhere these days.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307279863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307279866
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Look, I'm not going to spend a lot of time telling you why you should read this book. Here's how it starts:

"This morning on planet Earth, there are one thousand, six hundred, and eighty-six enhanced, gifted, or otherwise superpowered persons. Of these, one hundred and twenty-six are civilians leading normal lives. Thirty-eight are kept in research facilities funded by the Department of Defense, or foreign equivalents. Two hundred and twenty-six are aquatic, confined to the oceans. Twenty-nine are strictly localized--powerful trees and genii loci, the Great Sphinx, and the Pyramid of Giza. Twenty-five are microscopic (including the Infinitesimal Seven). Three are dogs; four are cats; one is a bird. Six are made of gas. One is a mobile electrical effect, more of a weather pattern than a person. Seventy-seven are alien visitors. Thirty-eight are missing. Forty-one are off-continuity, permanent emigres to Earth's alternate realities and branching timestreams.

"Six hundred and seventy-eight use their powers to fight crime, while four hundred and forty-one use their powers to commit them. Forty four are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more--eighteen to be exact. Including me.

"I don't know why it makes you evil. It's just what you find at the extreme right edge of the bell curve, the one you'd get if six billion minds took an intelligence test and you looked at the dozen highest scores.
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Format: Paperback
It's pretty clear that Austin Grossman has spent a lot of time reading comic books. Only someone who has spent countless hours reading Miller, Moore, Byrne, Stern, Gaiman, et. al. would be able to take comic book conventions and turn them into a great piece of literary fiction. Fortunately for all of us, Soon I Will Be Invincible is proof that Grossman spent his time, and learned his lessons, well.

The best decision that Grossman made was to focus the story on one super villain and one superhero. By focusing the story so narrowly, Grossman is able to infuse a humanity into these characters that one wouldn't typically associate with archetypes. Narrowing the story also gives Grossman the freedom to explore and poke fun at some of the more hallowed "sacred cows" in comic book storylines, like why do super villains always lose to superheroes, no matter how smart/strong/prepared they are?

While he's certainly willing to overturn the medium's conventions, Grossman clearly has a fondness for the genre. As a result, the skewering never morphs into cynical satire; but, retains an enthusiasm that's completely appropriate for the style. That enthusiasm infects the writing with a playfulness and humor that makes reading Soon I Will Be Invincible a pleasure.

Soon I Will Be Invincible reads so well that it's easy to forget that writing a semi-serious book about a subject as caricatured as superheroes is not an easy task. Consequently, Grossman deserves a lot of credit for creating a wonderful homage to comic books that retains the wide-eyed innocence of the medium while incorporating the humanistic touches of the genre's current writers.
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By thersites on November 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed by the negative reviews, and glad to see them in the minority. I found this book a delight, and was amazed to see it was a first novel. The book consists of two intertwined stories - one told by a super-villian, the other by a new super-hero. I found the super-villian chapters a total delight, a real joy - the super-hero chapters are interesting, but much less so - that's why i give 4 stars instead of 5. Overall definitely a very good and fun read.
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Format: Paperback
As any comic fan can tell you, PART of what made the original Watchmen series so enjoyable is that it brought superheroes down to our level. It gave them human emotions, motivations and neurosis similar to what most normal people encounter every day. A man who dons a mask and fights crime to avenge the death of a loved one is something we might aspire to. A man who dons a mask because it's the only place he feels safe is something we can understand.

In that way 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' does what Watchmen succeeded to spectacularly at...albeit in a much lighter way.

The book's approach to the world of superheroes is to mix 2 parts conventional superhero story with one part US Weekly. The characters are all stand-ins for other...copyrighted...characters you'll quickly recognize. They depart from their comic book alter egos with the more human portrayals they receive. They are the insecure, impatient, entitled people...all hiding behind agents and publicists...that they would be if they existed in the real world. The main character, Fatale, is an appropriate stand in for us. She never seems to get in the way of the plot and asks all the same questions we might ask if we were in her role.

Her counterpart, Dr. Impossible, is like a cross between Lex Luthor, Dr. Doom and Hannibal Lector. His goals and means are absurd but his motivations are ones that anyone who's been bullied on a playground can understand.

This probably isn't a book for everybody...but then what is? If you've ever sort of wondered if Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman act like a bunch of jerks after the credits roll on an episode of Super Friends then this might be a book for you.
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