Monday, April 10, 2017

ARC REVIEW: The Supes by Matthew Pritt

The Supes
Author: Matthew Pritt
Publisher: Future House Publishing
Genre: YA/Superhero fiction

Pub date: April 10, 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3/5 stars
PG-13 for violence, including animal mauling. There wasn't much until the climax, but those last chapters were intense
Recommend to newcomers of the superhero fiction genre; fans of Sky High and other underdog stories

Slip Stephenson has the lamest super power of all time. His father, a world renowned Super, can turn himself invisible, but Slip has never managed to do anything more than turn himself an underwhelming shade of black.
According to the rules of the School for Underage Power Enhancement and Refinement (SUPER), Slip has to pass his final test by the end of this year or he must give up his superpowered dreams and live as a regular civilian. He spends his senior year studying with five other nearly useless would-be Supers. Together, they must work as a team and overcome their watered-down powers if they want to make it in the world of superheroes.
As this ragtag group comes together, they notice that strange things are happening in the Super world. A mysterious villain has set up base next to Slip’s school, and famous and powerful Supers are turning evil. To protect the ones they love, Slip and his team must take matters into their own hands.
Can Slip and his newfound friends unravel the mystery? Will they be able to take on fully-powered supervillains? And will they be able to save the world?

The Review:

On the whole, The Supes is a fun story with some great quirks on the genre, despite characterization flaws.

While the basic plot is something we've seen before, The Supes has plenty of twists to keep things interesting -some predictable, some not. But what really takes the cake for me was Pritt's ability to come up with some pretty whacked out powers and I seriously respect how he well is able to use them in the story. Unlike Sky High, which serves as a decent peer story-wise, the 'lame' powers of Slip and his team don't come together just to solve the single problem/villain of the story. Instead, these Supers work on developing their powers into something that will be useful in the long run.

But can we talk about some of these ridiculous powers? Because I love them. So much. There's Sugar, the girl who can talk to squirrels; her father can turn into a squirrel, but her mother's human, so she wound up part squirrel. She has squirrel feet. And skin flaps under her arms, like a flying squirrel. Talk about inconvenient. Felicia is in a similar situation; she's almost human, expect for the gills. She can't breathe oxygen and is therefore water-bound and stuck with the unfortunate nickname 'Fish Tank'. Our main character Slip can't turn invisible like his dad (only black), but his brother might be worse off. He's got the turning invisible part down, but he can't see when he does.

Not only does Pritt saddle his characters with inconvenient and crazy-sauce abilities, but he uses them creatively and as great story devices. I feel like he was simultaneously poking good fun at the superhero genre and hitting it with a dose of reality that served the story well. Because if superheroes did exist, of course there would be some of these Supers stuck with in-between abilities. I think Pritt has found a clever niche in the genre.

My favorite power featured in this book has to be those of The Mind Writer, whose every word takes up permanent residence in the listener's brain. I love it because, on the surface, it didn't seem that impressive to me. To be completely honest, when this character was introduced, I thought it was kind of lame. But when that character pointed out that she had to watch every single word she ever said, because those words would never ever be forgotten, it exploded into one of the most interesting super powers I've seen. Plus, like so many of the other abilities, Pritt uses it to its greatest advantage.

My one great disappointment with this book was the amount of flat characters. I didn't feel like most of them stood very well on their own. Together, Slip and his six teammates have a great dynamic that capitalizes well on the underlying theme of teamwork, but on their own I didn't get a great sense of their personalities, aside from maybe Sugar and Hopper.

Slip especially lacked this needed depth and, for the main character, this was disappointing. I wanted a better sense of him because he had the potential of being a good character. I loved that everything goes wrong for him, but I wanted more depth from him to really feel the impact of it as a reader. So much of his story was told from an arm's length perspective, instead of the in-your-face, up close and personal depth I love, and I therefore had a hard time connecting with him. He's got plenty of good qualities and flaws -he's a nice guy, yet because of bad experiences has a tendency to expect the worst of people- but he lacks refined characterization to really bring him to life.

The Supes leaves a few things open-ended for a potential sequel, but it wraps up the story nicely so there are no gaps or cliffhangers.

Al a The Mind Writer, what is the most interesting down-side
of any super power you've seen?

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