I bought this book for my Kindle app way back in January but I only had time to read it in August. And I only read it because I was outside the house waiting for a service done and had nothing to do in the customer lounge.
What I didn’t count on was that I would get hooked. Badly.
REVIEW TIME! SPOILERS FREE, I PROMISE!
In a nutshell: Penelope “Penny” Akk, Ray Viles, and Claire Lutra have enough on their hands trying to navigate the pitfalls of middle school in Los Angeles, CA. Add to that they’re children of super-powered humans waiting for their own powers to show up while hiding all that from the world and life gets that more complicated. They naturally want to be the good guys, or superheroes, when it happens. They eventually get their powers, with Penny leading the way. What they didn’t expect was for life to turn them into bad guys. Worse, they’re actually good at it. Heck, they’re enjoying it. If they can just navigate through all the super-powered stuff both good and bad, their school mates, themselves, and Penny’s parents from finding out they’ve turned into the villains-of-the-century, they might just pull off having a normal day.
What I Liked: Thirteen can be a tough and confusing time year for anyone. But my reading and writing preference has always been anyone’s experience in that time of their lives. And the author totally nails this part. Rich, colorful, and heart-felt: I enjoyed every moment the story allowed me with the three. The narrative was first person via Penny’s and seeing everything unfold through her eyes tugged at all sorts of strings. I would be side-stitchingly L-O-L-ing one minute, heart-in-my-throat frightened in the next five, breathless with disbelief in the next ten after that. This is a book that took you for a ride. It would stop when it got the wind knocked out of it and you realize you felt the same. Then it would pick up again when it had caught its breath but you haven’t. L.A. came to life as Penny and the gang raced through their streets as both themselves and their alter-egos. Ducking, dodging, and dashing through street corners and landmarks, my head was unconsciously drawing a map while my eyes and hands were looking for my travel agent’s number. The characters were incredibly alive. They weren’t words: they were people. And, thanks to Penny, I could see right through everyone’s hearts. Magical.
What I Liked Less: I gave it 4 out of 5 stars and a simpler review than this on Kindle’s ‘Before You Go’ screen. Why the one star difference? I had issues with the length of the book. It was too long. Plus it wandered way off-course at times. It could’ve been paired down to a fifth of its length and still be as effective. Next were some of the names. ‘Akk’ and ‘Lutra’ don’t scream L.A. to me. Last names of some of the other characters also had me scratching my head on their ethnicity. Were they from the U.S. or transplants? Or were those just chic for the moment? Also, I found their super-being names (ESPECIALLY Ray’s and the three of them as a team) lacked punch, or had me grabbing the nearest dictionary. Something, er, punchier, and easier to understand, would have been nice. On the grammar side, the author used the contraction “I’d” too much. Simple past tense would have sufficed. Lastly, Penny and the gang, like a certain 90’s U.S. TV show about some small body of water and teenagers, talked too mature for their age. Yes, they show you an innate vulnerability but their decisions and thinking lie mostly with those possessing a grayer set of hair and heftier number of years lived.
But, In The End: I say get this book for the pure pleasure of escaping into super-hero-slash-villain-dom. Comic books try to show the same with less paper and more art but books will let you experience their entire world if you let them. And they linger longer in your head. This one stayed well up to a week in my head. Just don’t mind the preview of the next book – that one’s also too long that it saps your attention from the joy of this one.
So, give the book some love by getting it for your Kindle, Kindle app on your mobile device, or by getting the paperback. I can’t imagine how big that will be, but I’m pretty sure you’ll have fun diving into that world nevertheless.
Photo Credit: Kindle For Windows / Ricky Gunawan