The Ascension: a Super Human Clash Hardcover – June 30, 2011
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Top international reviews
Having set-up the characters and their world already, Michael Carroll keeps things fresh and exciting by having he teenage superheroes transported into an alternate version of their own world. Most things look the same, but certain things are disturbingly different.
How did they end up in this version of reality? And more importantly, can they ever get back home? In the meantime, they have to learn about, and adapt to, this strange new world.
The United States of America is being governed by a ruthless dictator, 'the Chancellor.' It has closed its borders and built up walls to 'protect' its people. Meanwhile, the rest of the world have united in fear of what the dictator may do next in his pursuit of power. The only people in the USA who dare oppose the Chancellor are a group of underground rebels lead by the enigmatic 'Daedalus.'
Paragon, Lance McKendrick and the teen superheroes form an unlikely alliance with the superhuman Brawn - imagine a blue, teenage Incredible Hulk with a sense of humour - and others who may (or may not) be the 'good' versions of supervillains from their own timeline.
Parallel timelines and mirror-versions of characters make this all sound much more complicated that it really is. It is a tale of superheroes versus supervillains, with both the fate of the world, and a chance to return to their own version of reality, at state for the heroes.
Author Michael Carroll has fun creating a dystopian version of America that has us willing the heroes on in their attempts to restore things to normality. Five years ago, when this was originally published, having a huge wall along the border between the USA and Mexico was a tongue-in-cheek reference: in 2016 it doesn't seem quite so far-fetched!
If you're familiar with this world of superheroes, you'll enjoy seeing this dark mirrored version. If you haven't encountered Michael Carroll's work before, pick up Super Human before this one - it's a fantastic read, and the two books together make up one of the best stories in the genre.
I've been careful not to reveal any of the twists and surprises in this story - are there are plenty of them - but I will say that the climactic battle in the villain's lair above a Louisiana swamp is worthy of any James Bond movie.
Underlying this, and the previous books, are hints of a mystery that - presumably - we'll learn more about in later books in the series. Namely, the nature of the mysterious blue energy that seems to cause the mutation that makes humans into super humans. I'm looking forward to finding out more about that.
In the meantime, I'm off to spend more time with the twelve-foot blue superhuman, Brawn, in the next novel in the series, Stronger.