In this story it is the year 2013 and super hero teams are like Major League Sports teams. While hero teams are government funded (to handle threats tIn this story it is the year 2013 and super hero teams are like Major League Sports teams. While hero teams are government funded (to handle threats to big for police) that only covers about half the costs. The other half comes from corporate sponsors. Each team has a business office which is very concerned with public relations, team rankings, new costumes, contract negotiations and the spring Supers Draft when members of the teen leagues turn pro.
Of course not everyone makes it onto an official hero team. Some hire themselves out as private security, some become mercenaries or villains, and some choose to operate independently, fighting the crimes too “small” for the hero teams. These independent operators are the Vigilantes. Most people view them as “hero wanabees” with either powers too weak to join an official hero team, or no powers and just enough training and gadgets to make them dangerous.
This book takes place in an alternate history with a significant amount of backstory. Apparently sometime in the early to mid-twentieth century (when our world was fighting World War One and/or Two) the earth was taken over by aliens. Humanity prevailed but some alien tech was left behind (including some captured alien scientists) and mutants happen, but all of that was many decades in the past.
The primary focus is The West Pacific Supers, whose base is on West Pacific Island, off the coast of California (which I am assuming is Not-Catalina Island). At the start of the book they are ranked #6 in the West Coast Conference, and have spot #5 in the Supers Draft to pick a new team member. Unfortunately there is a bit of undercurrent in the team because two senior team members each want to pick someone they can train to be their replacement, so they can retire. An unexpected attack changes all those plans.
I enjoyed this book very much, and once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. The humor in the book is ironic without going all the way into satire. The characters are well thought out and believable. There are a dozen supporting characters that are as interesting as the West Pacific Supers themselves. I look forward to the next book.
Fans of the “Velveteen vs.” stories by Seanan McGuire, or “Playing for Keeps” by Mur Lafferty should read this book.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in return for agreeing to write a review. ...more
“The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente is written in the tradition of books which both childre “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente is written in the tradition of books which both children and adults can enjoy. I do have a confession to make, while I enjoy the author’s writing style, the subject matter of some of her books is a bit dark for my taste, which is why I was very pleased when I heard about this book. It is an adventure that beautifully balances whimsy and suffering, so that it is neither too dark nor too light.
The author finds ways to play with the classic fable format while still surprising readers. Throughout this book are moments of cleverness and compassion, risks and revelations. September is a precocious young girl who expects things to happen the way they do in stories (which works well because of course she is a character in a story). This awareness of the story is not intrusive; as the book says early on: “September didn’t know what sort of story she was in. Was it a merry one or a serious one? How ought she to act?” The narrator on the other hand does know what sort of story it is, but is not the type to spoil things.
Knowing it is a story, September is aware that her choices can have unforeseen consequences later and she approaches her decisions mindfully. Combined with the literal way some choices are presented (signposts, meals, The Marquess’ request) this gives the reader a clear understanding of who September is.
Of course half the fun in this type of book is the colorful characters we meet along the way. The author creates characters in both quantity and quality. In spite of the number of characters (there are 30 entries in the Dramatis Persona) she has a way of making them complex and unique. Where else can you meet a Wyvern of unusual parentage, riders of wild velocipedes, and an alchemist spriggan?
It is no wonder that it won The “Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy”. ...more
“The Habitation of the Blessed” by Catherynne M. Valente is surreal. I do not mean that as complaint, but I do think that if the reader has this infom“The Habitation of the Blessed” by Catherynne M. Valente is surreal. I do not mean that as complaint, but I do think that if the reader has this infomation going in then they are more likely to appreciate this book. The author does not ease the reader in slowly. From the very beginning the reader enters a world where things most people would expect to be metaphors are interpreted literally.
The story’s dreamlike quality is most prevalent in the presence of human characters. The parts of the story told from the perspective of non-humans, while still unusual, feel more grounded to me. I am guessing this is a case of, “the alien landscape seen through the eyes of an alien looks more natural.” It may also be a result of the author’s skill at portraying humans from a time and culture far removed from my own, making their foreign worldview unexpectedly stranger than the non-humans. There is a lot of good detail about many mythical non-human races, but there was so much of it I was at times wishing for an appendix.
In structure this book is a tale within a tale (with sometimes additional layers of tales), told by a self proclaimed “bad historian”, who is in turn transcribing the accounts of an unreliable narrator (Prester John), a blemmye scribe, and a panoti royal nanny. Together these journals give a taste of the realm of Pentexore; its beginning, its middle and hints of its possible end. They are read in turn, side by side, chapter by chapter, so that sometimes knowledge of the later times precedes knowledge of the beginning. As the chapters advance the transcription of the journals becomes more challenging, and less complete.
I like this book. I find that I am becoming attached to the characters. Many of their actions and motivations speak to me; Imtithal’s willingness to make sacrifices, Hagia’s devotion which is both a virtue and a fault, Hiob’s desperate attempts to preserve knowledge in spite of judgment. Of all the characters in the book my least favorite is Prester John. Some might think it strange to like a book but not like the central character, but I do not consider Prester John the central character. I feel that the land of Pentexore is the, “central character,” and Pentexore is what I am most interested in learning more about in the next book....more
It was more than just read-it-in-a-day good; I think it was the best Toby story yet.
It opens with some humor and heart, but (of course) the situationIt was more than just read-it-in-a-day good; I think it was the best Toby story yet.
It opens with some humor and heart, but (of course) the situation quickly worsens. A threat arises that affects not only The Fae and Changelings, but also Mortals. In order to handle the crisis Toby must act as a knight, as well as being a detective, and even that may not be enough. To accomplish her mission and save those she cares about, she’ll need to learn to accept help from others when it is offered.
Toby is not the only one who faces challenges, tough decisions, and conflicting loyalties. We get to see more (and learn more) of Danny the Bridge Troll, Spike the Rose Goblin, Connor, Lily the Undine, Quentin, Luidaeg, and Luna Torquill Duchess of Shadowed Hills.
A certain King of the Cats may make an appearance as well....more