- Paperback: 260 pages
- Publisher: Swarm Press (July 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934861162
- ISBN-13: 978-1934861165
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Playing For Keeps Paperback – July 14, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
This, Mur Lafferty's first published novel, takes the tropes of comic book-style superheroes and villains, and brilliantly upends them to explore what lies underneath. The world of Playing for Keeps not only contains the previously mentioned costumed characters, but also a group of relatively normal folk - "third wavers" - who have special abilities too esoteric and underpowered to be useful for daring or mischief... or so it seems. What follows is a story that explores the complexities behind what it truly means to be a "hero," even when society has deemed that you are not.
Playing for Keeps is at turns epic and human, with everyday, flawed characters that are forced to contend with extraordinary challenges in which there is often no "right answer." Mur's prose is deft and evocative, making this a compelling, engrossing read to the very end.
FINAL WORD: A HIGH five of five stars, and a must read not only for fans of genre fiction, but anyone who enjoys an excellent tale. Highest recommendation.
Unfortunately this book isn't very good. It's so not-good that I was actually moved to write a review about it, so that perhaps other people out there wouldn't waste their money the same way I did mine. The story's premise is serviceable enough: two groups of super-powered individuals, those with powers natural or otherwise deemed suitable for government exploitation become costumed heroes, while those with more modest abilities (such as spraying excrement from one's hands, which in her own way Lafferty does her best to handle with a certain amount of sensitivity) merely attempt to live their lives. The sort-of title character, Keepsie, who has the power to never lose anything, runs a bar for the latter group where they can relate to each other about how it sucks to have superpowers without getting respect or having the great responsibility that the government heroes do. One day, however, due to her powers, Keepsie is entrusted by a super-villain with an object that the superheroes seem at great pains to recover, and determines to get to the bottom of the story herself. These are the broad strokes, anyway.
The problem is that this novel is not fun to read. For one thing, Lafferty has no ear for dialogue.Read more ›
The book's Seventh City setting brims with super-folk, many of whom are like Keepsie, the story's lead protagonist. Sporting a power deemed too "passive" to be useful for official crimefighting by the local hero academy, Keepsie is mostly content to run her pub and scowl at the sycophantic TV reports about the city's caped crusaders. But when Seventh City's villains target her as the linchpin in a new conspiracy, Keepsie finds herself in an ethical quandary: she must either help the heroes who rejected her, or cave to the villains' whims...
...or does she? Keepsie and her pals create a third option, which forces them to stick together, stand against heroes and villains, and scrap for their lives.
It's a fun, funny and exciting romp, and author Lafferty executes the story brilliantly, crafting a city and denizens so well-defined, you'd think they were pulled from a top-selling four-color comic. Lafferty also deftly explores the ethics of superheroing, and the interpersonal conflicts that arise when blessed with such powers.
Perhaps best of all, "Playing for Keeps" reminds us that we can all be heroes -- a relevant and hopeful message for not just fans of the genre, but any reader. Highly recommended.
I used the podcast version of Playing for Keeps with my Advance English Language Conversation class at a women's university in Seoul, Korea. My students loved the story and found themselves questioning their assumptions about what makes a hero.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fun take on a world with super powered people who just want to be useful.Published 1 month ago by Thomas Hanley
I read Playing for Keeps back in February. It's been sitting on my shelf for years and for some reason I never bothered, which is hilarious given how much I love this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I've read my fair share of bad books in my day, but this is by far the biggest piece of crap I've ever come across. Do yourself a favor and don't bother even reading the sample. Read morePublished 1 month ago by jackie swafford
A very fun spin on the "second-rate superhero" idea! I think this fits as a nice companion piece to other awesome works of the sub-genere like Mystery Men or The Tick. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Andrew Eigel
I ran across a description of this book while browsing tv tropes and decided impulsively to hunt down a copy because I wanted to read it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by XA-F
Intriguing twist on the superhero genre. This story focuses on the underdogs of the superhero world. Read morePublished 6 months ago by look4meelsewhere
Very good. Would like to see more stories from this world including these characters.Published 6 months ago by Great Banana
Comic-booky prose, an interesting power, and a lot of fun to read. Liked it a lot.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
I love Lafferty's work. She always approaches her subject from a completely unexpected direction. The book is fast paced, weird, and thumbs its nose at superhero convention. Read morePublished 8 months ago by RS