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The Thunderbird Project Kindle Edition
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|Length: 272 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I have next to no expectation for this book, other than I enjoy superhero fiction with darker undertones and hoped to get something like that. I got much, much more.
The story of Jupiter and her "friends" in the Thunderbird project was a great surprise. Jupiter is 18 feet tall and close to invulnerable, a good thing when you are employed as a superhero agent by the government, but much less fun when the agency you work for is terminated and you lose both all your support and all your friends. Her teammates can all fade back into society undetected, but Jupiter becomes pretty much a homeless outcast hiding away in woods and warehouses. So it is not so strange that she is a tad bitter when she rejoins the reformed team to deal with a new crisis targeting it's surviving members.
The dynamic between Jupiter and her teammates (not to mention the rest of society) that she both loves, envies and distrusts is the best part of book, and she is by far the best developed character. Sadly, many of her teammates never becomes more than a name and a power, and the main plot/conspiracy beyond Jupiter's own troubles is frankly less compelling, and somewhat convoluted. In fact, I would have enjoyed the story more if it was more tightly focused on Jupiter herself and her problems fitting into society than the overarching plot.
All in all a great debut (?) showing lots of potential for further books. An author worth following and a book well worth 4 dollars.
First the good: the book is generally well edited with very few spelling/grammatical errors or instances of awkward word choice. The main character Jupiter is well-rendered and interesting... if immature (more on that later). There is also plenty of action in the story that is handled reasonably well. Unfortunately this is nowhere near enough to overcome the story's flaws.
First and foremost, as other reviewers have noted, the secondary characters in the book (with the possible exception of Carson) are very two-dimensional and forgettable, particularly in contrast to Jupiter herself. While I was reading, I frequently got the two male supporting characters, Luke and Dustin, confused, and, for the first half of the book, I actually thought the two female supporting characters, Elle and Rosie, where the same person. This is because none of the character's have any back-story or characterization and are little more than names on the page. This flaw can be applied in a broader sense to the novel as a whole: the prose is very spartan in nature. There is very little descriptive language used and thus people and settings are thinly drawn and forgettable.
Then there is the issue of the major antagonist organization Sedicim. It was beyond my ability to suspend disbelief that an organization as large and well-funded as Sedicim could maneuver completely without public notice. Having a militia with a few dozen men with assault rifles in the wilderness is one thing, but when the organization can field tanks, thermobaric weaponry, thousands of men, millions of exotic munitions, and move them around the country in a coordinated fashion without anyone taking notice, strains credulity. Further, it is never explained why Sedicim was so obsessed with destroying the defunct Thunderbird Project to the point where they were willing to sacrifice hundreds of men and billions of dollars in materiel in the effort. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a cogent motive could be created for this, but it is not immediately obvious nor is it ever addressed in the book.
Also, the author commits something of a cardinal sin in superhero fiction: ignoring the origin story. In most superhero media, the superhero's origin story is seminally important and gives great insight into why they are who they are. This issue is only very briefly addressed near the end of the book in a seemingly apropos-of-nothing, tacked-on flashback scene. I'm not saying the author has to put the origin of the heroes at the beginning of the book; there could be dramatic reasons to not reveal this right away. However, to do as this author has and simply ignore the issue with no foreshadowing or even dialogue reference to it until nearly the end of the book was very frustrating because this, of course, is the central question of the book.
Finally there is the issue of Jupiter herself. She isn't a very likeable protagonist. Her life certainly hasn't been easy, but she reacts to everything in a very petulant and immature way. She is quick to anger, and lets it guide her actions far too often. Perhaps the worst is how she treats her parents. The worst they can be accused of is being oblivious to their daughter's emotional issues as a teenager, but what parent really knows what is going on with their child at that age? In any case she was well cared for, never abused emotionally or physically, and lived in a normal middle class home. They hardly deserved to be terrorized, threatened or have their house destroyed. Perhaps it was a conscious choice to have the protagonist be a prickly character, but this choice certainly takes away from the story and its conclusion.
The author had a brilliant original idea, but simply did not have the chops to pull it off. Shame.