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Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain Kindle Edition
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I'm not going to go over what the story is about, the story blurb does that and lots of other reviews have hit the high points. I'm just saying this is a book every super hero / villain fan should check out. I can't gush about this book enough, and I am going to do a rare thing and re-read it immediately because I enjoyed it so much and I know reading it again will be great. I really wish I were a great artist because this is a book that really deserves loads of great fan art :D
This is a SUPER great read, and I am wanting a sequel very badly. Great story, great characters, descriptions are excellent, you can totally SEE this story in your mind. MORE please!
I would have liked to see the cute Claire get the physical powers and Ray get the cute emotional warping power to further escape stereotypes, but that is a minor quibble.
The more pressing problem with the book is that while I acknowledge the book is written for the YA audience, there are several inconsistencies that will continuously nag at you throughout the book if you are like me. To begin with all three of the main characters tread very close to the Mary Sue line. Ray is variously described at different points as having upper limit human abilities, but that varies wildly during the course of the book, as when he leaps 15 feet straight up from a stand still. He, as a previously unathletic and completely untrained combatant, is regularly able to easily overcome villians/heros who are also physically enhanced, highly trained, with years of experience under their belts.
Penny's power is the most interesting and the most 'believable', with her wacky gadgets that sometimes are effective, sometimes aren't, and often have drawbacks. The exceptions, of course, are her two super inventions, the Machine and Vera, which between them are able to counter any and every attack, seen or unseen, commanded to or not. And it also varies, When Penny is levitated by Marvelous, only her hand with the Machine is unaffected. When Marvelous puts Bad Penny to sleep with magic, the Machine cancels the spell. You would think that either only her hand wouldn't be under the spell, or the entire levitate spell would have ended.
Claire kind of gets left out of the book. She serves in the middle of the story mainly as the narrator explaining who the hero or villain that shows up is, and the remainder of the book as the off scene manager setting up jobs and contacts. She largely does nothing in the action scenes while Ray and Penny do all the fighting.
Personally, I didn't find super powered Ray very likable. He goes from being a quiet nice guy to actually being something of a bully and a cad.
Finally, The Inscrutable Machine mixes it up with some of the best heroes and villains around, and not only do they always win, they get no injury more serious than something that makes them say 'Ow' which feeds into the idea that they find super villainy fun and exciting rather than dangerous and scary.
The book is well worth the Kindle version price, and I've picked up the whole series to continue with. A really enjoyable and well-paced story is somewhat marred with some nagging inconsistencies and Mary Sue-ism.
What drew me to this book is that I really really enjoy the idea of a bad guy main character point of view, which the title really insists you're going to be reading about. To be honest this isn't new or anything, the Artemis Fowl books are very much the same in that the morals of the main are a little questionable, but not too questionable because it's meant for kids. Personally I think that is where the Artemis Fowl comparison ends though because while that one tended to be very comfortable in the dues ex machina world of children's books, this one is going to be a lot more shockingly real feeling. In fact the only reason this is truly a children's book at all is because Richard Roberts, who by the way is a great guy and despite a lot of fame will respond to messages, doesn't like to write unhappy endings.
So yes, if you're reading Richard Roberts you can bet that probably everything will work out one way or another, but does that mean everything is perfect? Not... really. The fact is that these books manage to walk this crazy line of children's book and young adult that just blows me away. The author may not like to kill people, but the threats will be real. There may not be a moment of emotional distress (for you the reader) but the characters will experience the gambit. Speaking of the characters, there is a lot of depth to them, even extremely side characters whom only show up a little bit. Issues? Yes this book covers that sort of stuff too, without including a direct LGBT theme, Roberts expresses a very love is love attitude with a single sentence.
Now besides being a children's book, this story is very much firmly in the genre of super hero stories. These have been getting really popular of late and this is maybe the third I've reviewed so far, each one taking a slightly different approach to it. In this book super powers are really not that uncommon and you really get the impression anyone can acquire them with enough motivation. . Actually I take that back, the book straight up shows you that anyone can. This is refreshing because when you read a book about special people, part of the appeal is usually the sense of being better than someone else because say you won the super hero lottery. While some might like the chosen one approach to being special, I for one do not. I like my characters to earn it and in absence of that, at least be able to earn it. Though there really isn't any non-powered characters in this story, that's a fact that doesn't seem to matter much because anyone could be if they really sought it out and that's pretty cool.
What compels the story I think the most is the mix of internal and external story telling. There is the action of a fight and the emotional distress of being in that kind of scary situation. There is the menace of a villain and the emotional betrayal of being led into a trap. The book manages to cover these things in near equal measure which a recipe for widespread appeal in any story. You can really get a sense for how various people are handling things as the story goes and often times these are complex emotions, especially for a children's book.
There is a little bit of romance, which is never a high point for me. I tend to feel with romance you need a reason, not just toss it in wily nily because it gives the reader some sort of high. Generally speaking the best romance in stories is the kind that has some sort of relation to the armature or the moral. I can't honestly say that this is the case in this book, in part because I couldn't even tell you what the moral, if there is one, is. This doesn't mean it is a bad book per say, and the romance is so played down it hardly detracts, but it is something I noticed later on. Another thing you might want to know going into it is that there is going to be a lot of loose ends seeing as the book is one part of a serious. This doesn't bother me because I personally see life as a never ending story and books that try to tie everything neatly bugs me a great deal more.
In the end I would recommend this book to most anyone, however I can see why some of the above points might turn off some readers. I'll be thrilled to get around to book two (when my reading list allows) and toss in a review then. In the meantime I'm happy to respond to any comments.
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