Thursday, August 27, 2015

REVIEW: Marrow by Preston Norton

by Preston Norton
4 stars

This is another superhero fiction I picked up for the summer. (Okay, really, my sister found it and I pilfered it from her. When she was finished, though. I don't rip books out of people's hands, what's the matter with you?!) 
This is a fairly straight-forward superhero world. Comet crashed to earth, creating superheroes with its outer space dust. Not all people like those with superpowers. Superheroes have taken over the justice system, but what I thought was really interesting is that the heroes are just heroes. They don't have secret identities or even normal names. Marrow is Marrow. Fantom is Fantom. Flex is Flex. There's no subterfuge or hiding from the public.

The voice of this character. My gosh. This is told from the first person, and I love Marrow's attitude. He's sarcastic and funny and his descriptions can be kind of out there. Marrow is snarky and arrogant, but he's got emotional issues to deal with too, like not having a decent parental figure around. Really, isn't that the best kind? Preston Norton also earned serious bonus points when Marrow compares characters to both Mr. T and Tom Selleck.
Serious. Bonus. Points.

All of the characters in this story were fantastic. You always hear that characters should jump off the page, and I felt like these ones really did. The dialogue is really what caught me. They not only felt genuine but they also sounded like real people. Random, funny, often confused, and sometimes selfish real people. Yep. These guys totally exist in another dimension somewhere.

The one big thing that stood out for me, aside from the fun characters, were the actions scenes. Seriously. These are not often interesting for me, but Marrow nailed them. This is superhero fiction, and Norton brought the comic-book style fighting to life. I could almost see the colored frames themselves. It wasn't even until I read this that I realized the other superhero fictions I've read don't compare in this area. I think the big thing is that Norton gave his characters some really fun powers.

Marrow, for example, can change his bone density. Light as a feather one second, heavy as an anvil the next. You can see how that comes in handy. Flex, another super, is a rubber man. It seems like the books I've read mainly steer toward mind powers, or electricity, or super strength, so it was fun and refreshing to see some more unique powers at play. More than that, Norton is FANTASTIC at portraying them. He messes around with them a lot, always finding clever new tricks, and he plays them off each other with the mastery of a true superhero comic fanatic. Paired with the witty comebacks, I think this is why the action really stuck out for me.

The action starts pretty quick, and the story twists a lot, but it's packed with emotional punches too. This is definitely a fun, well-written romp, and it kept my attention the whole way.

I did feel like Marrow's character was just a bit off. He consistently sounded like a cocky sixteen-year-old to me, but in actuality he's an incredibly cocky fourteen-year-old. This threw me off a couple of times, because that seemed like quite an age difference. Other than this, the book primarily got fives across the board in character, concept, execution, and plot.

A really fun book. It's quick to get through, but it also has good substance. I'd recommend this for anyone who likes superheroes, but it could also make a good choice for an otherwise reluctant reader.

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