After Dark (East End Irregulars Book 1) Kindle Edition
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- Length: 196 pages
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While the plot is not particularly unusual, the writing is done with wit and style. For example, prior to discovering his fluid-manipulation powers, he says this about his power of getting images off of objects: "I can't tell you how aggravating it was to think that I'd won the talent lottery only to manifest a lame power. I was a dud, a spoon-bender, unable even to provoke real curiosity. I was that loser at the bar who tried to impress chicks by wiggling his ears or telling them he's only 6 years old because he was born on February 29th. For a while, the limit of my ambitions was to fondle towels from the girl's locker room". Although After Dark is not primarily intended to be funny, the author's style makes the relatively mundane adventures and misadventures of our want-to-be teen vigilante amusing and interesting.
Although I might have otherwise given the book 5 stars, the book is very, very short, at 160ish pages, and ends smack in the middle of a date between the hero and his romantic interest, after the hero decides to tell her about his powers. It is a big decision for him, but the unavoidable fact is that the book ends in the middle of a date. Basically, we have a small slice of the early life of our aspiring vigilante with what to me felt like a more or less arbitrary end point.
The book includes 100 pages of appendices, which I did not read. Perhaps they will add value for some.
Verdict: An entertaining super-hero/vigilante book written with wit and style that suffers a bit from being very short, and the lack of any sort of complete story arc (including a traditional ending). I enjoyed it a lot and will look for the sequels.
P.S. I have read and reviewed a lot of superhero novels, so check them out if interested.
Unfortunately, the episodic nature kind of mars the book's presentation. For the most part, it plays out as a steady progression, but some plotlines, such as the situation with the GRPA, essentially show up and then disappear entirely. It might have helped if I'd approached the book as a series of isolated stories, but I had assumed it was a continuous novel, so it was kind of jarring.
The illustrations are decent, serving the purpose of giving you an idea of what the characters look like, but they're on the amateur side. For those reading on the Kindle, they are presented completely separate from the text, so it can be kind of jarring to have your reading experience interrupted as a paragraph of text is interrupted by a smallish image floating in a sea of white, sometimes relating to events much earlier, then the paragraph resumes when you scroll to the next page.
I like the addition of the Appendix with the book. With this much world-building, some sort of reference is almost necessary.
Pros: The story was short and fast-paced. Character description and development is revealed through conversations and events. My kids found the “superpowers” fascinating and less common compared to what’s in the usual superhero books. In my opinion, there wasn’t enough action scenes demonstrating the use of their superpowers. It must be pointed out though, that the chapters on Sebastian and his love interest, Eva, were very well written.
Cons: I feel like the transitions between some chapters in the story were too abrupt. There must be a back/adjacent story somewhere, or a companion blog or book that I am not familiar with. The story flow is comfortable, but it seems like there is a presumption of familiarity expected of the reader. There were a few typos here and there, but minimal enough to not cause any major distraction.
Being the first book in a series, there isn’t much about the story arc to comment on. I just know that the angle on society protecting the rights of the metas will eventually be expounded on. There were several characters introduced in this installment. I don’t know who to trust yet, at this point. The only conflict I see so far is from a romantic standpoint – with the main character and his alter-ego being attracted to two different girls. I had hoped that there would be a smaller story arc (a mystery solved or secret unveiled) within Book 1, on top of introducing the setting and the characters.
I also allowed my daughter, who is in 4th grade, to read the book. Other than enjoying the metahuman angle of the book, she also picked up on a lot of the adolescent (physical) undertones, and pointed them out to me. Of course I took time to explain the character background and story context to her, so that she understands the difference between fiction and real life, and the fact that stories don’t necessarily have to reflect her own convictions and stand on these things. She enjoyed the artwork in the book (I did too!), and noted the improvement in quality as the story progressed.
Overall, this was a great intro into the East End Irregulars series. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series, now that my interest has been piqued.
I received a complimentary copy of After Dark in order to provide a review.