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H.E.R.O - Metamorphosis Paperback – August 19, 2011
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I have a hard time imagining any woman with self esteem relating to Stephanie for very long. I also think any guy who thinks that typical women actually think like Stephanie - are seriously sad. To be honest, I am not sure the male characterizations were that much better - they were kind of flat. Relationships are presented as a fact - there is no depth to them either. We are told how the characters relate to each other - other than protecting or wanting to look at or fantasize about Stephanie - there is very little evidence of these relationships in action. The other thing I didn't like was how overwhelmingly powerful all of their powers were compared to everyone else's. Beyond that, they don't need to sweat, excrete, work out. The HERO pay is over-the-top. Everyone likes them and falls for them. The whole hand waving, experimental nukes meteor shower thing really needed work.. Underneath that there are some very original and creative ideas - sadly the story seems to serve as a backdrop to a Barbie doll (plus a bunch of other attractive nubile interchangeable women) and two Kens simplistically lusting after each other. Try Drew Hayes' Super Powered series or Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books to see a better story line and more complex relationships.
I am giving this two stars because there is something underneath this that really could be made into a good story.
The central premise is that a mysterious meteor got trapped in orbit when humans tried to blow it up, and that when fragments fall they mutate people into superheroes and mutants. Supers look mostly normal (maybe they get bulky or ... hot) and have a variety of powers, with super strength and toughness being common. Mutants get a variety of mutations, with ultra-sharp claws and tentacles being common. While mutants are not typically as strong or fast as heroes, they have enhanced speed, senses, much faster healing, and deadly claws (or similar weaponry). Mutants are "born" with a bit of bloodlust -- and if they give in, they get a second round of mutations and sometimes lose some sanity.
There are 3 main heroes introduced immediately in this book, and they seem to remain central throughout the series, with many more introduced as we go. Each book has a different crisis and main villain.
The characters are likable, the books are fun, and they are mostly fast paced. Its easy to see why Mr. Rau has enough fans to keep writing these books.
However, if you skip ahead a bunch of books, you'll find that with every new book, a bunch of people are quitting the series for a number of reasons, one of which is that there is almost no character development. For example, a heroine is confused by the flirting of another hero, and is unaware he has a girlfriend -- and this confusion continues for book after book after book. There are numerous other issues that start to annoy one the further one gets in the series including: (1) the ease with which new villains spring from nowhere and instantly build devices and the like; (2) the amount of time the main characters spend doing routine things (going to the gym, shopping for clothes, etc); (3) the lack of common sense of the characters -- for example, the telepath attacked by another hero thinks "maybe she was mind controlled" and then decides to go to the gym instead of checking into that; (4) the characters are mostly one dimensional stereotypes -- for example, "Diva" a main heroine, is defined by the fact that she wants to be a model, likes people looking at her, is hot, stupid and has a good heart -- and she doesn't change at all from book to book. Heck, we don't even learn why she wants to become a model; (5) the world, like the characters, is thinly drawn -- for example, there are apparently "some courses" that want to be heroes have to take, but our heroes all seem to get to skip them, and with no background checks or training they are suddenly "federal agents"; and (6) the author seems to have no concept of appropriate timing, as within a month or two of becoming heroes, the new hero trio have fought a dozen villains, met multiple species of aliens, and been kidnapped, mind-controlled and the like multiples times (all while going to the gym a thousand times). I guess if you aren't doing character development, what does rational timing matter?
Despite all the limits of Mr. Rau's writing, he does do some things well. The books are a lot of fun, and this first one is free. Although there are better superhero books (check out my other reviews), I do recommend taking a look at this one. Although its unlikely you'll make it through all 18 (or however many) books are out now, you might well get enjoyment from the series for a time, before the flaws start to build up in your mind.
Most recent customer reviews
There are news heroes, with fast pace action, a little clean romance and a good sense of humor!