Noel's Reviews > A Once Crowded Sky

A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King
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's review
Aug 26, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: superhero
Read from August 31 to September 03, 2012

I am going to start by saying that I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The author knows the genre of comic book based superheroes really well, and clearly loves it. And I am glad I read it.

I'll start with what I liked.

The book was structured and presented wonderfully for comic hero prose. Each chapter is broken into segments, and each segment comes from a perspective of one of the characters. Each segment is identified by a title & number of a comic book that would correspond to the character of the segment, including annuals and one-shots. It was nicely done and a great feature of the narrative. In addition some elements of the book were done in comic panels, and others had hand written pages that represents a 'script' describing comic panels. As well as fitting a purpose within the story, it was interesting and effective for those familiar with reading comics.

Now for what I didn't like.

First, the author's deep familiarity with the genre tied the narrative up. The entire story of the book is buried in comic tropes, at a level where the characters identify and reference the tropes directly. So rather than a story bringing super heroes into the real world... it just makes comic heroes real. And I found it jarring. I believe I could have taken it in small doses, but it was the central plot element and referenced continually.

Second, was that while the story is told from differing character's perspective, the narrative tone of the story never changes. It came off as a single narrator's tone for each character. There were snatches of clear identity and perspective that stood out, particularly late, but the general tone and voice didn't vary as each segment did, which left the characters with less depth.

Third, there is a key plot element ((I'll try to limit the spoiler reference here)) based on eyesight and shooting ability of a hero who is now old and without abilities. It is setup repeatedly about his in ability to hit a target and being old frequently. Then in the late middle of the book suddenly he hits accurately without comment more than once. Then in the climax, his inability to hit a target is again incredibly important. It just didn't hang together well enough. As inconsistent as it's source material, I guess. But that really bugs me about comics and ultimately one of the reasons why I stopped reading series.

Anyway, in short, it is a fun read and worth it. But I was hoping for more.
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