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West Pacific Supers: Rising Tide Paperback – March 24, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"...the well-imagined world and strong cast of do-gooders... will keep readers interested through the epilogue by offering new takes on surprisingly human personal struggles, like a less cynical Watchmen with more likable characters." - Kirkus Indie Reviews
"The characters of the super heroes--both male and female--are complex, three-dimensional and well-defined... Overall 'West Pacific Supers: Rising Tide' is imaginative and ambitious, a strong first-effort by its authors." - from 4-star review on IndieReader
From the Author
There are a lot of characters in Rising Tide, but each of them is distinct. Each one sees the world in a different way and each has a distinctive voice. Some of the key characters in West Pacific Supers: Rising Tide are as follows:
Seawolf is an obvious mutant who's still struggling with the anti-mutant sentiments she faced as a child, even though times have changed and the non-mutant Coast Guard liaison to the team keeps trying to ask her out.
Blue Star is a four-time inductee in the Superhero Hall of Fame who can save the world but can't salvage a relationship for the life of him. West Pacific Supers is his last chance to end his career on a high note.
Cosmic Kid is a cocky young super just coming on the team and looking to prove himself.
Camille's decade-long marriage is threatened by her unilateral decision to return to the team that once kicked her off for refusing to wear a miniskirt costume.
Loren Polawsky isn't a real superhero, just a real estate agent struggling to find time for vigilante heroics.
Dr. Noah Brandeis has a crazy plan to make geological history and, with the help of a few insane supervillains, he may just succeed.
Top customer reviews
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The book covers the heroes dealing with the types of challenges we all face: family, relationship difficulties, inner demons, bureaucratic and political obstacles, money issues, and the like. It also delves into the extraordinary part of their lives in dealing with superhero team sponsorship, hostile reporters, ratings and status, injury and death on the job, and the moral quandaries of life in a world where super-tech and mutants exist. Each of the characters is unique and has interesting foibles and points of view about the world they live in and each other.
As speculative fiction, posing the question "what if superheroes were real", it does an outstanding job. It paints a world that feels very real, despite its fantastic nature. It also does well in presenting compelling characters, portraying them as very human (whether they are or not), and following their development. My only real complaint is that the book gives a little too much detail. It has a lot of throwaway one-liners referencing characters, events, or factions in the world that are never explored further (however, this is remedied by book 2 where they have a lot more established lore to draw upon).
If you're a fan of superheroics then definitely add this to your collection.
There is a lot that works in this book and a few things that miss the mark somewhat but on the whole it is a solid effort and easily one of the better entries in the genre.
Basic Plot Summary (Spoiler Free):
The West Pacific Supers (WPS) are a group of officially sanctioned heroes based in the fictional city of West Pacific, California. The WPS is shaken by the sudden loss of several of its members in a surprise attack aimed at its senior and most powerful heroes but must pull together to find those responsible and bring them to justice. At the same time, the team is investigating the theft of explosives so potent they rival that of a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, the WPS must recruit new members to rebuild its strength and standing in the eyes of the public. The team receives some help from vigilantes, non-sanctioned heroes, who provide timely intelligence from the streets and badly needed backup when they're needed most. Time is running out for the heroes to find and recover the explosives before the villains responsible use them for purposes unknown.
Surprisingly, this merely provides the backdrop for the meat of the novel. The book is really more concerned with the heroes themselves and their personal trials and tribulations. The primary characters here are Cosmic Kid, a newly recruited teen hero, Blue Star, an older hero pulled out of semi-retirement to lend the shaken team a steady and experienced hand, Camille, a one-time West Pacific Super lured out of retirement, and Seawolf, a veteran WPS member who struggles as much with the outward manifestation of her power as she does with the villains she fights. Although these are the core characters that the novel follows, there is a well developed set of secondary characters from the Vigilantes (Truthfinder, The Goalie, Midnight, Whisperer, White Knight, Cupid, and Samurai) to the support staff of the WPS.
The world of the West Pacific Supers is a place where superheroes have been elevated to the level of fame of sports figures and movie stars in our world. They have fan clubs, agents who negotiate contracts and endorsements, and PR people to plan their 'product placement.' This extends to the teams such as the WPS. Younger heroes start in Teen groups (farm leagues) and go through a draft and ranking process that determines their place in the big leagues. The super teams are also ranked based on the foes they've vanquished, property damaged prevented (or allowed/caused), and the casualties they take each 'season'.
This sounds somewhat hokey but it is played straight and it works. The main characters are all likeable but each is flawed or limited in some way that makes them more real and relatable. The novel's focus is squarely on the heroes and the plot takes a definite backseat to character development. There is a lot of room for additional novels in this universe. The author teases us with bits and pieces of the alternate history of this world and there are a lot of characters introduced that appear only briefly.
That said, the story isn't without some weaknesses. As mentioned by other reviewers, the author decides to tell rather than show a major event and completely skips the aftermath with the hand waving of "Months later..." This may have been an effort to shorten a relatively long book but it has the effect of diluting the impact of the team's failure to stop a particular event. Also, the villains, with the exception of Dr. B and the final villain, are fairly one-dimensional and forgettable.
These are relatively minor nitpicks, however, and the the novel as whole is an engrossing and entertaining read.
And it worked.
Part of it is the characters. These heroes are powerful, but have human flaws and fiobles. They struggle to live the mundane part of their lives while fighting a series of crises that crop up. While they do this, members of the team die, others "hold out" for better contracts, or land on "injured reserve". All this occurs with the media scrutinizing the heroes. There is a TV channel devoted to them, and the team has a PR director working on what to say and what not to say.
But its more than just the characters. Here the plot is layered. There is more than one enemy, and the multiple factions create a number of events that help move thes tory along while keeping the end clouded. Unlike some stories, I could not easily predict the way the plot would turn.
I did see a few proofreading misses, but not enough to generate real concern.
I wouldn't put this with "Wearing the Cape" or "Confessions of a D-list Supervillian", but its definitely one of the better superhero fiction tales I've read. If you like superhero fiction, you'll enjoy this book.