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Armageddon Girl (New Olympus Saga, Book One) (Volume 1) Paperback – December 5, 2013
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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About the Author
C.J. Carella was born in New York and grew up in Peru and Venezuela. He started writing for fun (if not profit) at an early age, and never looked back. During his decades-long career, C.J. has written over twenty roleplaying books for such companies as Steve Jackson Games, Palladium Books and Eden Studios. When not writing, C.J. enjoys gaming (computer and tabletop), reading and fighting crime (mostly by yelling at kids to get off the lawn). He does not enjoy long walks by the beach, unless said beach has a partially buried Statue of Liberty.
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Top customer reviews
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I'm into underdog stories, and the behind-the-scenes stuff to ARMAGEDDON GIRL is most definitely of the underdog variety. ARMAGEDDON GIRL happens to be a successful kickstarter project that met over 200% of its initial goal (over a 31-day period, the writer sought pledges to total a $2,500 goal; he ended up with $5,178). As an extra treat, we get the black and white, chapter opening illustrations by artists Maryanne Fry and Delia Gable. But does C.J. Carella do his backers a solid?
I think he does. Once I got used to Christine's stream-of-consciousness jibber-jabber (as my gramps used to say) and the frequent drops of pop culture references, I enjoyed the book tremendously. And as the story progresses, Carella does somewhat tone down his try to be hip. I love his worldbuilding. It's obvious that he thought things thru, from how certain everyday tech gadgets are different (ie: wrist-comms instead of cell phones) all the way up to geopolitical shifts. Part of the fun is Christine trying to identify the point of divergence from her home world (which she dubs "Earth Prime") to her new world ("Earth Alpha"). Carella juggles a sprawling cast of capes & cowls, not a few of whom are obvious nods to familiar superheroes. Someone beat me to it, but perhaps my favorite wink of the eye revolves around a certain Time Lord. Only it's not a British police box that this guy travels in.
Christine's new world is populated by over five thousand Neolympians (a word coined by Hitler during the 1936 Olympics; good looking out, Hitler). Neolympians are categorized into three tiers: Type 1's are the minor parahumans; Type 2's are fairly formidable supers; Type 3's are those in the neighborhood of the Wonder Woman/Superman power level. The No-Face Vigilante is a badassss Type 2 hero, meaning he can lift around 20,000 pounds. No-Face has got a pretty cool/creepy power: his face can assume anyone else's resemblance. Otherwise, when he's at rest, his face is just this blank blob of flesh. No-Face's preferred bailiwick is the five buroughs encompassing New York City. He'd rather not stray beyond those boundaries. He shouldn't have rescued that kidnapped girl then.
It's hard not to like Christine Dark, never mind that she's a walking run-on sentence. I loved her big-eyed reactions to each revelation in her crazy new environs. Her pop culture references are hit and miss for those around her because some of those references have no grounding on Earth Alpha (for example, there's no Keanu Reeves, so her throwaway comment about The Matrix just sails over people's heads). And it's hard not to like the No-Face Vigilante (let's call him Mark) who is this hard-as-nails hombre whose prickly, tough guy exterior only a very few can penetrate, Christine immediately becoming of those.
The perspective shifts chapter to chapter from Christine to Mark to select members of the global super-team, Freedom Legion, to several of the baddies. I mentioned earlier that Christine is the point-of-view character as, thru her, we learn about Earth Alpha. But you could say the same for Mark as he becomes our point-of-view character as the primary observer of Christine as she experiences Earth Alpha and discovers her set of super-powers. Oh, yeah, we find out fairly quickly that Christine herself is a Neolympian. The mystery revolves around exactly what it is she's capable of.
By introducing the Freedom Legion, Carella's narrative takes on a wider canvas. Key members of the super-team go back to the genesis of the parahuman, and it's in these chapters that we get personal perspectives of this alternate history. It takes a moment for the Freedom Legion arc to intersect with Christine and Mark's arcs but when they finally do, we get a clue as to how ambitious a story Carella is telling. The action is epic and so intense. Christine is a fast learner. By the end of the book, several questions are answered, more are raised. It's fun trying to catch all the references (the nods to Doctor Who, Doc Savage, the Shadow, and D!ck Tracy are obvious; there are more obscure nods). The writing isn't perfect. I think it could've done with some tightening (Chapter One reads like a gushing fanboy wrote it). But Carella made me care about the characters and the worldbuilding is in-depth, fascinating, thought-provoking. Will Christine Dark change the world, as that one super-seer prophesied? There has to be a reason why the forces of darkness are so relentless in their pursuit of her. Maybe that'll be answered in the upcoming sequel DOOMSDAY DUET. But I say speed it up with the movie adaptation. Felicia Day ain't getting younger.
But C.J. Carella has done it with -style-. The dialogue is snappy, the action moves along well, and the characters are varied and gripping. The nerd-girl doesn't stop being a nerd-girl (or scarred by her teenage encounters with cheerleaders) just because she can fly.
Which brings up the second point: it's done -cleverly-. The worldbuilding is solid, the alterations to history credible, and the downside shown too. Having superheroes is cool, but what do you do when the superhero is a dick? What about the collateral damage from the battles between Good and Evil -- have you ever imagined how many people died when the Avengers ripped up NYC?
There are a lot of touches like that. For example, there's the "neo" Mafia boss. He isn't terrifically powerful... but he doesn't age. He just goes on getting more and more entrenched; in -his- world, Little Italy should stay Italian... and he sees that it does. That is a subtle and intelligent extrapolation of what having people who -don't age- around would do.
If you like SF/Fantasy/comics pop culture and alternate history and great superpowered fights, buy the book!
Obvious mention to the superb character, world building and story line - which is outrageously good - you have to give props to CJ Carella vast scope of knowledge. I'm a person that when I read if I haven't seen a word before or heard of a historical character before or can't remember the details of that character, I usually look them up. I like to learn as I read, expand all that useless trivia in my brain. Well, my X-Ray feature on my Kindly is getting over worked and pleading for mercy with all the knowledge that Mr. Carella is including in his novel. I am simply floored that he is mentioning people from history that were barely even covered in my high school and college history classes. Not just WWI and WWII figures, but he also uses names from mythology, not just one cultural's mythology. He cover's a gambit of culturals from German, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian...well, I think you get the idea - I'm usually pretty up on my mythology but he throws curve ball after curve ball. No making up races for this author - he knows his history and uses it - for that alone I would love to give him 10 stars.
I 100% recommend all 4 of the books in this series and any further that are written. I think I've found another favorite new author in CJ Carella. Any author that can write an outstanding book that is entertaining AND allows me to learn all types of facts about history......well, I want to become one of his best buds!!! (okay, I don't mean that in a creepy way)
Most recent customer reviews
Book 1: You're going to love it. It's entertaining AND interesting.Read more