Author: Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 04/12/11
But the Book:
Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.
Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope.
This all-new and moving story of love, family, and sacrifice is an homage to Golden Age comics that no fan will want to miss.
Plot: 3 Stars
I was never into comic books, but a couple years ago I read Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge. I wasn't sure how a novel about superheroes was going to work out, but I absolutely loved it and could not believe there weren't more authors moving in this direction. So when I saw that Carrie Vaughn was releasing a superhero novel, I had to have it because I loved Voices of Dragons and her Kitty Norville series. Maybe my expectations were a little high after reading Black and White, but this novel just fell a little flat for me. Commerce City wasn't explained in much detail, so the setting portion of the world-building was a bit lacking. The Destructor was the only evil supervillian mentioned, which didn't seem plausible. But my favorite part of this novel was the mystery that unfolded. As Celia delved further and further into the mystery, she learned more and more about how the super humans came about.
Pace: 2 Stars
Three quarters of this novel left me wondering if I'd ever get to the action. It seemed like all of the time was taken up by Celia's inner monolgue, whether she was trying to figure out the current situation or rehashing past events. Whether she was on the phone, working out a new lead, or sitting in court, it seemed like Celia was telling the reader a lot of information instead of showing the reader. Even her flashbacks (which happened quite often) were a bit lackluster, considering they were flashbacks of evil geniuses and kidnappings. It wasn't until I almost gave up and brought the book back to the library without finishing, that I reached the last quarter of the book and hit a little action. Granted, I saw the scene that grabbed my attention back coming, it was enough to get me to finish the book.
Characters: 3 Stars
Celia is the only character we learn a lot about throughout this novel. While it's totally understandable that after being raised by superheroes she would rebel as a teenager and become an accountant as an adult, I never really connected to Celia. A part of the problem is that she talked about how she didn't get along with her parents throughout the entire novel, but did not give that many examples. Also, we never learn a lot about her parents outside of their jobs and the few flashbacks in which we see them all not getting along. Dr. Mentis is the only member of the Olympiad we get to learn a bit about, and that came across very rushed and last minute after certain scenes unfold. There were a number of other super humans that are mentioned once or twice with barely any detail. It was also a bit confusing at time when Celia bounced back and forth between the super human's real names and code names.
Cover: 2 Stars
This cover confused me. My first thought upon seeing it was, "Where is the cover model's face?" It isn't until you open the cover to read the inside of the jacket that you see her face, which leads me to wonder if the paperback version is going to be edited slightly or just leave her face-less. Once I started reading, the cover confused me even more because I couldn't figure out who the cover model was supposed to depict. My first thought was Celia, considering she has short red hair and she's the main character. But the red spandex suit makes me think the cover model is depicting Spark, a member of the Olympiad, which doesn't make a lot of sense because without including the other three members of the Olympiad. Although I do enjoy the juxtoposition of the title and other text in regards to the cover model's distinctly superhero pose. I just wish the cityscape across the bottom could have been more pronounced. I couldn't even tell it was there when looking at a thumbnail. Basically, from afar this cover does a good job of relaying the superhero vibe to a shopper that is browsing, but on closer inspection it is a bit generic and does not depict the novel that well.
Overall: 2.5 Stars
Disclosure: I borrowed this novel from the local library.