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Heroine Complex Paperback – July 5, 2016
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Praise for Heroine Complex:
“Sarah Kuhn creates characters you want to befriend, worlds you want to live in, and situations you can’t begin to imagine. Heroine Complex is at once fiendishly snarky yet colossally big-hearted.” —Javier Grillo-Marxuach, writer and producer for Lost, creator of The Middleman
“Smart, sexy, and filled with beautifully fleshed-out/kick-ass women, Heroine Complex is the kind of read that sticks in your brain like a fanged cupcake.... I adored it." —Amber Benson, author of The Witches of Echo Park
“The superheroine we’ve been waiting for; the urban fantasy we deserve. Sarah Kuhn is the total package: comedy, tragedy, and sincerity. Grab your cape. We’re saving the city.”
—Seanan McGuire, New York Times-bestselling author of the October Daye series
"Every page of Sarah Kuhn’s novel delighted me immensely.... Kuhn’s writing is bouncy and engaging, and Evie is very clearly spun into a captivating character. I also have to give Kuhn props for balancing romance and humour and drama, and making me wish that Heroine Complex would go on just a little bit longer." —Book Riot
“Romance, adventure, kick-butt action sequences, and killer cupcakes combine to make this a great example of how weird and wonderful urban fantasy can be in the right hands.” —B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog
“Onomatopoeias? Check. Snarkiness? Check. Kick-ass Asian-American superwomen saving San Francisco from demon-possessed cupcakes? Check and check, Kuhn's Heroine Complex is a ridiculously fun read.” —RT Reviews (top pick)
“Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex is a delight.” —Leigh Bardugo, New York Times-bestselling author of Crooked Kingdom
"A fresh take on a superheroine story. Full of wit and of course danger!... This seriously was an entertaining read. The character development was superb." —Boundless Books
"Love the humor and wacky hijinks, along with character development.... This is everything I’ve ever wanted in a book!" —Dreaming of Cats
About the Author
Sarah Kuhn is the author of Heroine Complex—the first in a series starring Asian American superheroines—for DAW Books. She also wrote The Ruby Equation for the comics anthology Fresh Romance and the romantic comedy novella One Con Glory, which earned praise from io9 and USA Today and is in development as a feature film. Her articles and essays on such topics as geek girl culture, comic book continuity, and Sailor Moon cosplay have appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Apex Magazine, AngryAsianMan.com, IGN.com, Back Stage, The Hollywood Reporter, StarTrek.com, Creative Screenwriting, and the Hugo-nominated anthology Chicks Dig Comics. In 2011, she was selected as a finalist for the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award. You can visit her at heroinecomplex.com or on Twitter: @sarahkuhn.
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Top Customer Reviews
The narration from Evie aims for snark and sass but occasionally misses the mark. There are some genuinely funny passages in there (one where Evie is drunk comes to mind), but there are also sections of protracted exposition and a general tendency toward tell-not-show.
The characters are mostly human, but occasionally make wholly idiotic decisions in the interest of conflict. Particularly bad offenders here are Evie's love interest and Evie's sister. Both are presented as intelligent characters, but both bicker or betray the protagonist (for literal demons) when tension demands it.
The more sci-fi aspects of the setting have a lot of potential. Beings from another dimension jump portals into our world, and some humans acquire strange abilities as a side-effect. But the mechanics aren't made clear until an exposition dump near the end, so when the main characters figure out the identity and plan of the main villain, it feels like a wildly lucky guess. Superpowers are also a little arbitrary; they work when the plot needs them to, then fizzle out a scene later.
Despite the contrivances, the story and characters were interesting enough to keep me reading. And, I'll admit, it was nice to read a superhero story that didn't feature a white guy and his love interest.
The book's description on Amazon accurately describes the contents. It is the story of Evie, loyal assistant to childhood best friend Aveda Jupiter, who has become a superhero defending San Francisco from demon invasions and harboring a secret superpower of her own until an accident forces her to pretend to be Aveda for a night.
I will try to break it down into things I liked and things that I did not like about this book. In a lot of ways these are mixed together, and I have had some difficulty articulating them separately. Many of my likes are tempered by dislikes.
Things I liked about this book:
- Features women, non-white people, and non-heterosexual people who have agency and are capable of being awesome without being stereotypes. Also features (and this may be my personal bias as I don't think it's explicitly stated for the characters that I am thinking of) male, white, heterosexual characters which are treated in the same way.
- "Superhero" setting which is unique and consistent.
- Well written action scenes.
- Coherent plot, with unexpected twists that are still foreshadowed to some extent.
- Decent characterization and character development. Most characters felt real and not like two-dimensional caricatures, and several of the characters (especially Evie, Aveda, and Bea) develop over the course of the novel in a way that I feel is realistic. Several minor characters do not develop particularly much, but I don't think that is necessarily a negative - I do not think I have ever read a book in which an author has given all of the minor characters in their story a fully-developed character arc.
- Well edited. No obvious mistakes, typos, etc. Writing is competent from a critical perspective, with the various elements that I expect from a novel.
Things I did not like about this book:
- Pacing. Honestly, most of the complaints that I have with this book are centered around the pacing in general. I think that the pacing is off in a way that I find difficult to articulate. The book starts off well-paced with an action scene followed by some exposition and establishment of characters that I think is well done, but then the timeline of events is not matched particularly well with the character development. This is tied in very closely with the rest of the things that I did not like about this book.
- Exposition dumps. There are several places in the book between the "action" set-pieces (set mostly in the superhero "base") in which I feel like the author decided "OK, the action scene is over, lets do some exposition", and it alternates between action and exposition/characterization in a way that felt a little forced to me.
- Due to the pacing (action scene, exposition, characterization, action scene, exposition, characterization, etc) the exposition and characterization come off as forced at times. I am not a writer, and can not come up with any suggestions for ways in which to make the book flow more smoothly, but it was a bit jarring to me.
- While the author does a fairly good job at showing the main character's emotional growth over the course of the novel by her actions, a lot of her inner conflict and growth feels like it was told to me and not shown. I think that, again, this is mainly the fault of the pacing issues; there are plenty of places where Evie's internal conflict and character growth are shown, but it feels like they were put in to discrete places intentionally alongside the author telling us what Evie is thinking and feeling in a way that does not seem organic.
I found this an entertaining, easy read. I think there are flaws in the author's writing, but I also think they show a lot of talent. I am planning on reading "One Con Glory" (which is oddly not linked to her Amazon author page, but based on her blog was also written by her). I will also be watching her blog and Amazon for future works, because I think that with some more experience and practice writing she is capable of turning out some very enjoyable stories.
I would not necessarily recommend this book to my friends despite the things that I enjoyed about it, because I think that there are a number of other "superhero" novels which are better written and better positioned as an introduction to the genre. However, my friends are not generally fans of the superhero genre. For fans of superhero books I do not think that this is a "must-read", but I would recommend this wholeheartedly to fans who have a broad experience of the genre and are looking for something new and technically competent.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Plus, kick-ass women, plus plus they aren't white, plus plus plus the...Read more