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Super Nobody (Alphas and Omegas Book 1) Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Other than commenting on the age I thought the book was geared towards, I didn't go much into the story itself. I think younger readers will like the story. The main character is a basically good kid, though a bit shy. Many kids will relate to the feeling of not quite fitting in and not being understood by their parents. The story is filled with super powers, which is sure to attract the attention of younger kids, and helps introduce them to more complex plotlines and lengthy storytelling.
As I’ve said before, a lot of indie writing has certain key flaws. This book is no different. The description scenes are wonderful and sometimes quite witty and entertaining. It seems like the author has a good ear when it comes to this aspect, as seen below.
He felt guilty and awful for the thought, but he couldn’t squash it. Grandpa was coming over more often for dinner now, and had popped in several times for breakfast over the summer.
But for every well-presented paragraph of inner dialog or description, we have equal representation of weak, colorless dialog. Half the time, the characters seem to spit out either cliché hero quips or trite everyday contrivances—whether it be people saying hello and how are you with each other, or asking if they should do something, like below.
“Yeah, that’s another thing. Isn’t is about time we told him the truth? I mean, my God Susanna, considering who I am, and his grandfather…he has a right to know.”
It is hard to dispel the basic inability for the characters to speak meaningfully to each other, especially when it seems like the author can express everything else in a unique way.
Michael is obviously the main character, and as it follows him around, it’s not so bad. I didn’t particularly like him in the beginning but grew to like him and over time to not liking him again by the end. His irrational reasons for doing half the things he does is bothersome, above all.
The other characters aren’t ever developed too much. We have Charlotte—his female interest—who disappears for a large section in the middle and is only hyped up for her love capabilities if not as an outlet to gush over things from the past. His parents are stereotypical and flat, and the bad guy is cookie cutter.
Frankly, I had few I liked.
Here, too, there was a lot not going on. Only after writing about this did I see other people had similar complaints about the story’s beginning—that being: it is too slow. By the time things get going, I already disliked Michael, which isn’t good. Then it improves…for a while.
Once the action does start, it is repeated scene after scene of Michael in the middle of action where he somehow makes it out of and then…everything goes black and he’s in the hospital again. For all his time in the hospital, I would expect people to start suspecting he has some kind of super healing power because it never takes him long to recuperate and get back into a situation that lands him in the hospital again.
Eventually, why this repetition happens is revealed—though lackluster at best—and Michael dons his detective cap—or so the book keeps telling us he does—to find out what is going on. Somehow, he always goes to the right place to find the next info dump we readers need to understand this peculiar town.
Clearly, this bravado builds until he and his girl wonder barrel into fight the bad guy and he somehow defeats him—though even this is undermined by another character.
In the end, I wanted more from this book. The premise is interesting and unusual, but at the heart of it, the story turns out to be nothing more than a normal superhero comic dressed up as something it’s not. Supposedly others have said the second book is better, but having zipped through the first couple of pages, the same voice echoes out to me, and I’m not sure I want to hear anymore from Michael. That being said, there are elements here that show the author has a voice, just we don’t get to hear too much of it in this outing.
The writing itself is effective and well-edited. There are some nice turns of phrase and metaphor throughout, like this beautifully horrifying bit that conveys such an exact sensation: "In the middle of his chest, it felt as though something large and spiky was shifting around, until it reached the bottom of his stomach. It settled down there and had an uncomfortable nap." There's an informality to the writing voice that suits its middle-school protagonist.
The main character, Michael Washington, is fairly likable and very relateable. In the opening segment of the novel, he has retreated into books to survive the horrors of a fifth grade without friends. My middle school years were remarkably and sadly similar, so it resonated with me, though I didn't recognize all of the book references. With a few exceptions to be noted below, I believed in his emotional turmoils, his flaws and strengths. I laughed wryly when a new character was introduced and he reacted primarily with irritation at being distracted from his books. Charlotte was charming, though a bit reminiscent of Spinelli's Stargirl or other Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and I was happy for Michael (even if he wasn't at first).
I enjoyed the pacing, as we were wrapped up in Michael's middle school experience, and the greater world took some time to emerge as very radically different from our own. Minor spoiler alert here: this book is very much about superhumans. It takes some time for that to be obvious in the narrative, which I though worked well. And it's a fairly interesting take on superhumans and their collective effect on the world- the impression I had was almost post-apocalyptic, with our primary city setting a holdout of order. I am quite curious to see more of the world in later installments.
However, there were a few hiccups in my enjoyment. A rather smallish but persistent issue for me were the self-conscious references to "the past." Charlotte, being a super-retro groovy music fan, was a particular source of historical awkwardness. The story is set some 30 or 50 years into the future, and although it was somewhat amusing, I definitely felt that there were too many references to our last decade (2000-2010). It took me out of the story, and I found it a bit distracting. Perhaps the target young adult audience will take that in better stride.
The greater difficulty I had with the book was in the relationship Michael has with his parents. As the plot develops, we see more of the conspiracy (or even conspiracies) beneath the picket-fenced surface of Michael's world, and his parents are a definite part of it. It was fascinating, but I kept expecting more outrage from our protagonist. Aside from a flare-up with his grandfather, Michael never directly confronts his parents-- not even in his own head. I found that alienating, though perhaps I biased myself with an overly paranoid theory regarding what was going on. But even so, his parents are extremely unfair towards him, and it's confusing that he doesn't seem to really resent that.
However, I very much look forward to reading the next book in the series, Super Anybody. Will my paranoid theorizing be vindicated? I don't know, but I anticipate some interesting deconstructions of superheroes as related by a likeable and believable viewpoint character, and that's more than reason for me to pick it up.
Most recent customer reviews
Chapter 1 is terrible. Don't let it scare you off.Read more