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Failstate #1


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Robin Laughlin (aka. Failstate) is a contestant in a reality TV show called America’s Next Superhero. His goal? To become an official, licensed superhero. It doesn’t help matters that his powers are often out of control, that his handsome big brother is wining the hearts of the voters, or that Robin can’t even remove his mask or viewers would shriek from fright. When one of his competitors is murdered, Robin sets out to find the killer, hoping for justice and to prove he’s no failure.

416 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 2012

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John W. Otte

18 books110 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Kat Heckenbach.
Author 31 books229 followers
November 17, 2015
Finished this a few weeks ago, and had a hard time gathering my thoughts on it for a review. I'm on the fence about Christian fiction in general--being a Christian and a writer myself who likes the faith elements very subtle, often to the point of completely buried in symbolism. I tend to shy from books where the Christianity is overt, usually feeling preached at while reading.

This book was overt, but it was one of the more genuine Christian books I've read. The main character is a teen boy, who happens to have superpowers, and also happens to be a Christian. He attends church, and hangs out at youth group...and competes on a reality show against other kids with super powers.

The story concept is unique. I mean, a reality show for super heroes, in which they're assigned tasks to perform on live TV. And each week, one is voted off. How cool is that?

The characters are well fleshed out. I definitely connected with Robin (aka Failstate). He's a real teen, with real teen problems, with real teen friends, even amongst all the superhero stuff. His life is by no means perfect, and he not only deals with taking out villains, but also struggles with his relationship with his mom and brother.

The writing is good, with a unique voice, and the pacing kept me turning pages. Plenty of action, without sacrificing a well thought-out plot. Definitely has me interesting in continuing the series.

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Profile Image for Nic.
1,623 reviews60 followers
September 8, 2013
I made it 182 pages into this 416-page book, and I am conflicted as all get out.

I love superhero books. Love 'em. I'm a big graphic novel fan, and have liked superhero comics since way back when I used to read my dad's old volumes of Green Lantern, which were falling apart and had the price of fifteen cents on the covers. I only recently discovered the existence of - and my insane passion for - non-graphic-novel books about superheroes. Soon I Will Be Invincible knocked my socks off. Hero by Perry Moore blew me away. So this book had that going for it.

Plus, the premise sounds awesome: underdog Failstate is competing with other teen superheroes on a reality show to win the chance to be an official, licensed hero. Unfortunately, his brother, the crowd-pleasing Gauntlet, is moving in on the prize, and on the girl Failstate likes. But then, one of the show's competitors is murdered, and Failstate vows to find the killer.

This is all condensed from the back of the book, and I read far enough to know that it's accurate. However, neither this description nor the glowing quote from a Publisher's Weekly starred review mentions the thing that's making me put this book down: it's chock-full of religion, and does not mind shoving it in your face.

It started out fairly subtle. Failstate prays when he's nervous, but how uncommon is that? I'm used to the assumption that most characters in books set in modern America would identify, if asked, as Christian. But then he quotes an entire Bible passage, and then we get a scene where he's sitting around bored and considers doing a little Bible study, and then we have a scene where he goes to church . . . Within a couple of chapters, I checked out the author's bio. He's a minister.

But I love superhero stories. (Did I mention that?) And I like the writing all right, although it's very poorly edited. (In fact, that made me consider putting the book down before I even got to the religion stuff. There's repetition, missing punctuation, and sometimes missing or misspelled words.) The main character is a good guy, and the conflicts are compelling, and I want to know what happens. But.

I should probably acknowledge that I've had bad experiences with organized religion and, specifically, with Christianity. I know that "Christianity" is a big group - indeed, the book's author is a Lutheran minister, and I don't think a Lutheran has ever told me I was going to Hell. Every single day of my middle school career. Or been a substitute teacher who kept my little brother in from recess to explain to him that he needed to believe in Jesus. Or babysat the two of us and tried to convert us with terrifying stories about crucifixion, then told us not to tell our parents. But all of those things and many more have happened, so I'm twitchy about religion in general and Christianity in particular.

And in many ways, I feel I'm entitled. In this country, even though we have separation of Church and State, churches are tax-exempt, the Pledge of Allegiance STILL has "under God" in it, and people cry "War on Christmas!" because other people dare to wish each other the joy of the season without using religion-specific terms. (But try putting The Golden Compass on a school reading list - even a list that already has the Narnia books - and people lose their minds.)

Anyway. A big red flag for me appears when Failstate starts inviting other characters to his youth group at church, and they attend, and obviously have fun in what's presented as a slightly-cheesy-but-really-they-love-it neutral social environment that just happens to feature a little talking and singing about God. A bigger red flag pops up when, after his power runs out in a life-or-death battle, Failstate prays to God and then finds more power inside himself and uses it to win the fight. (Naturally, he takes a moment to thank God for it later.) Another flag appears when a major supervillain is ruled out as a suspect because he's converted to Christianity and become a real stand-up guy.

I kept telling myself that I'd be okay, I could make it through this stuff, because I like some of the characters (like the superhero Veritas) and want to know what happens. But when Failstate gets Veritas to come to his youth group, too, I put my foot down. Because this stuff isn't going to stop, and I'm too young to have the kind of blood pressure it's giving me.

Look, I get it. "Christian superhero YA novel" is a thing that, to my knowledge, hasn't been done. I can respect that a guy for whom religion is important wanted to write about a superhero for whom it's important, sort of like how I get why knitters would write knitting mysteries. The main thing that bugs me is that no description I found anywhere hinted at the heavy-handed religious content. If it had, I would not have picked up the book. I read superhero books because I like seeing people save the world using their cool abilities and their inner strength. I do NOT want to read a book wherein people save the world using faith, or wherein God saves the world and superheroes are just some kind of tool. And the fact that this recurring, obvious theme in the book isn't mentioned in any descriptions seems disingenuous to me. Sure, the author may not have written these descriptions, but then again, the book is published by a small press aaaand I just Googled the press, which I'd never heard of, and found it is billed as "Christian Fantasy and Science Fiction." Again, would not have picked up the book had I known. And this is not a "but I'm glad I did!" situation.

*Sigh* I kind of wish I could look past the Christianity stuff in here, because the characters and story interest me, but I can't. On the other hand, I actually feel a little better having discovered that this is published by a Christian publisher, because I really don't expect myself to be able to ignore the amount of religion that I associate with books published by religious presses. So there, there, me. I give you permission not to finish this book. Maybe one of the other reviews will tell me how it ends.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jacob.
Author 10 books15 followers
May 2, 2012
Where was this book 15 years ago when i needed it? It is everything Marvel Universe is missing. I grew up loving Spider man and the x-men, but i always knew that their was nothing Christlike in their behavior. They didn't care for God.

John Otte successfully accomplishes what i would never wish on my worst enemy. He builds a cast of superheroes and villians who do not seem over the top and yet maintain that bit of credibleness that they need to have in order to know accept that they are really superheros. What does that mean? It means there are cool characters and annoying ones. Bad guy good guys and passive wimpy guys. Chicks too. He didn't leave them out. Basically, these guys have cool powers that you and i would like to have, but not ones that you usually think about (flying, x-ray vision, etc).

It is my hope that this little novel will blossom into something much much more to influence younger readers who want to identify something really cool like wolverine in a Christ centered approach.

Having said all that i want to be sure to mention that the book does not preach doctrine or ooze with Christianness. It is simply a neat story that involves a Christian. Something I wanted to identify with when i was younger, but couldn't b/c John Otte hadn't yet written Failstate.
Profile Image for Jill Williamson.
Author 59 books1,444 followers
April 18, 2012
Review by Jill Williamson

Robin Laughlin (aka. Failstate) is a contestant in a reality TV show called America's Next Superhero. His goal? To become an official, licensed superhero. It doesn't help matters that his powers are often out of control, that his handsome big brother is wining the hearts of the voters, or that Robin can't even remove his mask or viewers would shriek from fright. When one of his competitors is murdered, Robin sets out to find the killer, hoping for justice and to prove he's no failure.

Now, this is what has been missing from bookstore shelves! John Otte's Failstate combines mystery, action, humor, romance, and faith all in one rip-roaring superhero tale. Readers will cheer for Failstate--a rookie hero without a license--as he tries to solve a murder, control his unstable powers, and not get voted off the show America's Next Superhero. Otte provides short, cliffhanger chapters, deep characters, and a breathless pace that will keep young readers up all night. I highly recommend this book for everyone. It's that much fun.
Profile Image for Claire.
102 reviews5 followers
May 28, 2012
I was really excited to read Failstate by John W. Otte because 1) it’s about superheroes, 2) it’s about a superhero tv reality show, and 3) the cover looked pretty awesome. “Being a superhero was hard enough. Being one on reality television…Why had I thought this was a good idea?” I loved the reality show concept and the idea of competing for a vigilante license and the VOC (Vigilante Oversight Committee.) Robin, aka Failstate, is a Fantastic character, and Otte really nails the male teen psyche in a way that can be rare in Christian fiction. My favorite character was Pastor Grant, aka P.G., since I’m involved in Youth Ministry myself. Otte is a Pastor by day, perhaps P.G. is a bit autobiographical? Anyway, the twists are good, the sibling rivalry is hilarious, mostly, and the fantasy world-building (while not that different) is still great. Failstate is another great new title from Marcher Lord Press. I really hope there’s a sequel because I’m really not ready for Robin’s story to be done!!!
Profile Image for Adam Collings.
Author 11 books64 followers
March 7, 2015
Failstate is just another teenage superhero competing for the prized vigilante license on a reality TV show. His power is the ability to break and destroy stuff. Not so glamerous. He’s a bit of an underdog, which I love, and his life is about to get a whole lot more interesting.

Failstate was great fun to read. It defies the cliches of both superhero fiction and young adult fiction. It took me places I really didn't expect it to. That is not to say it didn't keep it's narrative promises.

The characters were well-rounded and develloped. I alwys kmow an author has done a good job with their characters when I have strong emotional rections to these people who don't exist. This happened with Failstate. I identified closely with the main character. I felt like I was in his shoes, along for the ride.

I look forward to seeing where this series goes next.
Profile Image for Steve Rzasa.
Author 80 books90 followers
November 26, 2012
Failstate is my hero. Seriously, I would love to have his powers, but only if I could control them. John does a great job mixing teenage angst, family drama and coming-of-age awkwardness with a superhero conspiracy. And Failstate is competing in a reality show! What's not to love?
Author 4 books19 followers
June 28, 2013
Good, but not great. The plot was the best part, with constant twists and turns, but the main characters were a little inconsistent and the side characters were flat. Also had several typos that could have been fixed by a quick read-through with a spell-checker.
Profile Image for Gillian Adams.
Author 7 books539 followers
June 9, 2012
Robin Laughlin lives a double life. Most of the time, he's just your ordinary teenager, but every now and then, when duty calls, the mask goes on and Robin becomes Failstate, an amateur superhero. But when competing for an official government vigilante license on America's Next Superhero sets him at odds with his brother Ben (aka. Gauntlet), and one of his co-competitors is murdered, life, like his powers, seems to be spiraling out of control.

Determined to find the killer, Robin struggles to overcome the odds and bring said super villain to justice. But each step he takes bring him closer to blows with his own brother. Will Robin track down the murderer? Or will the murderer catch him first?

I absolutely loved this book. I started reading it late one night and I was glued to my chair for the next several hours until I turned the last page and closed the book with a contented sigh. I highly enjoy superhero movies (the Avengers was awesome!) but this was the first time I'd ever read a superhero book...and I look forward to more. I recently discovered that there are two more books coming in the series and I can't wait to read them!

Failstate was a fast paced read with plenty of action, intrigue, sarcasm, and wit. From the first page, you can't help rooting for Failstate...er, Robin...and hoping everything will work out for him! John W. Otte did a wonderful job of bringing creative "powers" and new ideas to the realm of superheros and villains. A fresh plot, coupled with likable characters and vivid writing makes Failstate an excellent read for all ages!
Author 10 books63 followers
April 7, 2017
I liked this book so much -- much more than I expected. I'm not a fan of the cover, since it gives off a comic-book feel to it. But there's so much I liked inside. I loved the main character and felt for him. The author threw lots of twists into the plot and kept me reading. The author knows kids, and it shows in the dialogue and the way the characters acted. I don't know if there's a sequel, but I hope so because I'm not ready to leave the characters behind. (except maybe his brother...yeah, we can leave him behind). :-)
There were only two things I didn't care for.
1) I found more typos than expected. Maybe this was an ARC (the book was a gift from another author); I don't know. But I give it a pass because the story was so good.
2) Near the end, there was a youth group meeting where the youth pastor gave a little sermon. The main character had a change of heart due to the message. Now I know this happens sometimes, but it felt a little heavy-handed to me. I read and like Christian fiction, but I just didn't like the way this was carried out. Again, I give it a pass because the story was fantastic!
Now I'm off to see if there's a sequel. If not, I'll have to check out more John Otte books!
Profile Image for Matthew Sampson.
125 reviews1 follower
April 11, 2017
Failstate is a thoroughly engaging superhero novel with plenty of unforeseen plot twists and dynamic character relationships. I've wanted to write a superhero story for a long time, and Otte's creativity and ingenuity in this book have revived that enthusiasm. Despite a few faults, including a few missing words and punctuation marks and a bit of uncharacteristic jumping to conclusions on the main character's part near the beginning, I enjoyed Failstate very much and hope to continue reading the series and Otte's other works.
Profile Image for Adam Graham.
Author 63 books66 followers
January 19, 2013
What do you get when you combine reality TV, superheroes, a coming of age story, and sibling rivalry in one package? You get Failstate.

Robin Laughlin has amazing mental powers that he fears played a role in the death of his father. Determined to make good, he enters a reality TV contest to become America's next superhero adopting the identity of Failstate. He struggles in the competition with his homemade constitution and superpowers that lack the excitement of scrapping physical heroes like Gauntlet (who is also his brother) and the fact that his Failstate costume looks like it was put together from a dozen thrift stores doesn't help.

He's invited to go on patrol with one of the frontrunners in the contest. When she's found brutally murdered, suspicion goes everywhere including on to Failsafe himself. But what about the show's producer or a rival contestant? Suspects abound and Failstate has to figure out who to trust.

Overall, Otte did so much right in this book.

First of all is the character of Failstate. In many ways, he reminds me of the earliest incarnation of Spider-man. He's unsure of himself and often struggles, receives unfair blame. He's hard luck hero. Of course, there's a thin line between "hard luck hero" and "loser." Early on, I was worried he was heading too far into the latter territory, but by the time you're a quarter way through, he's got his character well-established and what you have a kid a lot like Peter Parker who people can truly identify with and cheer for and really becomes an endearing hero throughout the book

Secondly, I think he created a wonderful fictional setting. This isn't anything like the DC or Marvel universe. Their superheroes are regulated and indeed, the whole reality show centers around a quest to get a license. So, it's not a traditional comic book world as much as it’s a world that's adjusted to the existence of superhuman crime fighters and the concept works very well.

Third, I loved of all the interplay between the characters, particularly between Failsafe and his brother was very well done. There are so many conflicts woven into the story that make more than just a Superhero action story. I also appreciated how the faith element really fit organically into the story.

Finally, I think the inclusion of a real sure enough mystery requiring actual investigation was a great touch and as I'm a fan of detective stories, so it was a great add-on.

Compared to my enjoyment, my issues with the book are trifling. The reality TV segments were somewhat cheesy even by reality TV standards for missions. Thankfully, events take the reality TV element off center stage. The book seems to suggest a gulf between "reality TV" and "reality" as Robin struggled on the contrived challenges, but finds his stride in addressing a real life menace.

Some of the superhero and villain names seemed a bit including Meridian but I know firsthand how many of the good names have all been trademarked by Marvel, DC, and their ilk.

The end was good, but it doesn't lend itself easily sequel. That's too bad because Otte has created a good world I'd love to see more of.
Profile Image for Becky B.
7,751 reviews101 followers
September 2, 2013
Failstate is an average teenager, trying to make it through life and figure out how to talk to girls. Oh, and he also has super powers he is still learning to control. He is part of a reality tv show America's Next Superhero trying to win a superhero license. But when one of the wannabe superheroes gets severely injured while out on patrol, the show is put on hiatus and people wonder if these superheroes are doing more harm than good. Failstate, with some new friends he's made through the show, starts investigating who hurt his co-competitor and uncovers a plan to take out a good portion of the entire world's population. And literally, only he can stop it.

It took me a while to get into this book. Like many superheroes, Failstate has his own agnst issues he has to deal with along the way, mostly with his family, and until he does, he can be somewhat annoying and petty at times. But once that got dealt with and the mysterious circumstances had developed enough, I was thoroughly intrigued and convinced I would read the next book too (of course, that wasn't till over halfway through the book). Otte develops an interesting superhero world with a decent cast of characters that have some actual depth to them. Those who like Marvel comics heroes should enjoy Failstate and gang.

I new this was by a Christian author and had gotten good reviews, but I was still a little wary. Not because of the Christian message interwoven into the story, but because I've been disappointed by the too-often subpar quality of writing for young adults and kids in the Christian arena. I am quite pleased to say that Otte's writing can compete with the rest of writing for this interest level across the board. He obviously knows his audience and the teens come off very authentic. The action sequences are interesting and the character building is solid. The only thing I hope Otte improves on as he continues to write (which I hope he does) is flow between the "secular" and "church" moments in his books. There were times when the moments when Failstate prays or goes to church felt tacked on to the story. I am not saying it is a bad thing Failstate attends youth group and church regularly where he gets some preaching (good thing too, because that's where he eventually gets his issues somewhat sorted out), but it just needs to be a little more wordsmithing attention.

Notes on content: No language issues. No sexual content beyond a kiss and Failstate sometimes mentions a temptation to let his eyes linger on various parts of a girl's body. The violence is all superhero/fantasy violence so there are lots of punches thrown and bodies flung around but very few people get seriously hurt. There is one death by shooting.
Profile Image for Emma.
55 reviews25 followers
November 27, 2012
I’m starting to think of Marcher Lord Press the same way I think of Pixar Studios. I remind myself each time I pick up their newest book that sometime some book has to fall short of the high standards of its predecessors. And then I walk away stunned that somehow the new book has knocked expectations out of the park. Failstate has definitely raised the bar for future releases.

It seems best to start with the two partial complaints I had while reading the story. I say partial because they are both very easy to overlook and mostly came of an actual effort to think of any possible negatives before recommending it to a friend for her kids to read.
The first is that many of the adult characters seem underdeveloped. I think much of this stems from a having a first person narrative by a teenager. Most of the people Robin is interacting with are his own age, and many of adults only have walk on parts. But I never really felt grounded when it came to his parents. I spent most of the book wondering if his mother knew about his superpowers or not. Based on the conclusion of the book I even suspect that Mr. Otte was deliberately withholding information on Robin’s parents for a later book. So, a small peeve I admit.
My other partial negative is that the book is very clearly written for teenagers. However, it was done in a fashion I could appreciate, and I’m sure that for teenagers, this would be a great bonus. For me and for most of the people I lend books too though, this makes the book a little less relatable. Like many books aimed at a certain demographic, Failstate is still immensely enjoyable for adults and even younger children.
The best part of Failstate, like many other Marcher Lord books, is the way a strong Christian message is woven through the story without seeming forced or preachy. The pastor’s role and the role of Robin’s faith enhance the story and add a new dimension to the world of superheroes. I think that in a world of “great power” there has always been a question of where “great responsibility” comes from. Rather than expect some kind of inherent goodness in heroes, Failstate shows them turning to God for the strength and the wisdom to use their powers for His glory.

Reblogged from my site: myrdan.com

Profile Image for Kathryn.
13 reviews
August 25, 2014
At first glance, Failstate might seem like another "typical coming-of-age boy with superpowers" novel, but I found this novel surprisingly well done, with a refreshingly interesting host of characters.

My favorite, of course, was Failstate himself. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill teenager! His powers are unique, for one thing, not something boring like super-strength or the ability to fly. Secondly, as a curse of Robin's powers his face is hideously deformed (think Darth Vader when you take off the mask) and so he has to keep a mask on whenever he wants to use his powers. This also makes him someone not eager to hold the spotlight, yet he wants to do good regardless. He has your standard sibling rivalry with Ben, his older brother, but while many novels would just make Ben an easy bad guy, his novel actually makes a point of showing that characters can grow and change, both Ben and Failstate himself.

The idea of superheros winning a reality TV show (like American Idol) in order to get their hero license is a funny idea that I enjoyed. Unfortunately, the TV show only plays a part really in the first part of the novel. The rest of the novel is spent dealing with the bad guy. Now, I must admit it is around the antagonists that I start to have one of my few gripes around the novel. The bad guys in this story truly are cliche, and the "twist" at the end was really not that impressive and the bad guy's motives for what they did just did not seem very plausible. I sort of had the feeling that maybe the author was purposely making fun of the villains at times (like, oh those zany super-villains are up to no good again!) but it would have been nice to have a villains that made just a little more sense.

There are a few points in the novel that I felt could have some better explanation, but fortunately the story ends with much room for growth. It's clear that the author intends to write more in the series, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing Failstate again.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 150 books37.5k followers
February 11, 2013
Rob Laughlin has powers, but he doesn't have control over them. From the first page, we discover that our world has superheroes; they are such a part of life that they are licensed. As 'Failstate' Rob volunteers to compete on a wannabee superhero reality TV show, which he seems about to get dumped from. His imminent fall apparently is being accelerated by his rival, Gauntlet, who is superpopular, effortlessly super. But Rob knows Gauntlet's secrets.

Rob has his own secrets, making it difficult to connect with girls; being a normal teenage boy in all other regards, this is a toughie. Then not one but two girls show friendly interest--one off the show, and one a fan. Rob is going to patrol with Lux, his new superhero friend, but disaster and tragedy strike. Rob is determined to find the perp, but meanwhile, a new school friend, Haruki, claims to be harassed by aliens. Everyone at school rejects him, and Rob doesn't believe the 'aliens' talk, but he lends a sympathetic ear, especially when Haruki turns up at his church.

The pace is unrelenting, but Otte doesn't skimp on the relationships. There is trouble in the Laughlin household, not just between Rob and his brother Ben, but also with their mom. (Dad died in an accident, which has had the expected emotional fallout for the family.)

A wild story that has a Christian overlay (which frankly I found refreshing, after far too many books with priest = child perv. or some other kind of dirtbag) that addresses faith for a teenage audience, without setting the story aside to preach. Highly entertaining and imaginative.
Profile Image for Rebel Rider.
145 reviews17 followers
January 18, 2016
Robin, secretly Failstate, lives in a world where superheroes not only exist, but have their own gameshow, America’s Next Superhero. When one of the contestants is murdered, Robin investigates and digs up more than he expected.

It’s currently free on Kindle!

Note on ratings:

* Horrible.
** Below average
*** Average. Not good or bad.
**** Above average
***** Above and beyond

Content: Some violence, but since it’s Christian, it is pretty clean.

Originality and world building: ***
The whole idea of a superhero TV show is interesting. However, I felt the world building was a bit underdone. Superheroes running loose in society seemed to have changed almost nothing, other than a few laws and the way superhero related activities are considered by law.

Characters and their Arcs: ***
Robin has some conflict with his brother, and there’s a bit of an arc there. The characters were interesting, but I never really had a solid attachment to them.

Writing style and Pacing: ****
I thought the story started off slow, but once I was a ways in, it got a lot better. There were a few things I felt should have been better explained.
Profile Image for Jen McConnel.
Author 23 books276 followers
July 29, 2012
Taking the popular reality T.V. show theme into the realm of superheros, this novel follows a charming, clumsy hero named Failstate (aka Robin). He's competing to be "America's Next Superhero", but other than his loyalty and overall nice-guy-ness, nothing sets him apart from his fellow contestants. Add to the mix that fact that he's up against his older brother, Gauntlet, and you have a reluctant hero who is sympathetic in the extreme. But when a superhero is murdered, Robin decides that this is his chance to prove that he really is a hero.

With more plot twists than a comic series, this novel was entertaining, if outlandish at times. Although the plot arc might be better developed in graphic format, readers who root for the underdog will enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 13 books39 followers
May 5, 2012
Okay, there have only been a few books that pull me in as this one did to the point of ignoring those around me. I started reading this one day and read close to 300 pages, planned to stay up all night and finish it but went to bed and read the last 100 pages the next day. Fabulous storyline, characters, adventure, and sci-fi. Enjoyed every minute. The writer is talented for creating such rounded out characters and intrecite storylines that all come together and make sense. I'm glad I heard there are two more books coming out because I want more time with these characters. Just one thing I am still trying to figure out and will have to go over again but, besides that, wonderful.
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 15 books68 followers
August 22, 2012
It had to happen… a reality show to pick the next teen superhero! One caped contestant gets voted off every week, and Rob “Failstate” Laughlin knows his days are numbered. He isn’t the superhuman, shiny, photogenic hero America expects. But the darkness he hides behind grunge clothes and a Halloween mask drives him like no other. He fights for redemption, propelled by a painful past and a desperate faith, in a way that the others may not understand. A rare Christian-centered approach to the classic superhero story.
Profile Image for John.
Author 1 book9 followers
April 8, 2015
Fast read. Good story about a boy with superpowers learning to control them and in the process he learns to have faith in himself, those around him, and God.

The book is aimed at a Christian YA audience and fills a niche that, as far as I know, has not been fully explored yet.

The book could use a few more passes with a red pen. There were some typographical and grammatical errors in the book (nothing major) and I think the story could have been tightened up a bit more.

Overall, a good book and one I would recommend to my kids. 3.5/5 stars
570 reviews22 followers
March 17, 2013
Superheros with a slight Christian twist. Robin Laughlin can't control his super powers, suffers from neglect at home, and lacks social success. Never-the-less, he constantly tries to be better and 'save the world.' I think this is a story that many teen boys would love. The Christian ideas strengthen his resolve without being preachy. I can't say that the story swept me away, but it was a solid action oriented plot.
Profile Image for Sharon Hinck.
Author 25 books487 followers
October 25, 2014
I got the privilege of an early peek at this manuscript and immediately loved the concept. Reality competition shows are endemic, and superheros are just plain fun, so combining them leads to a great read. But John accomplishes more than that. His young protagonist faces universal questions that will resonate with readers. I'm not a teenage boy, but I strongly identified with many of Failstate's struggles. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Chris.
35 reviews3 followers
July 2, 2012
Failstate had me from the get-go. The concept of this book is awesome, and its execution is stellar. This may be John Otte's debut novel, but he's proved with it that he's no amateur. You'll cheer for Robin as me makes his way through the superhero game show, and as he unravels the mystery of one of his fellow contestants' murder. I can't wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for Kathrese.
Author 9 books155 followers
June 18, 2015
Failstate combines a male protagonist with a superb premise to make a fantastic read that will appeal to young adults of both genders. I loved the setup, the story, and the spiritual message. This is a book I can recommend to my son, the finicky reader.
Profile Image for Alexa.
657 reviews35 followers
August 17, 2012
Failstate was an amazing twist on a super hero story! Absolutely loved it, kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! A riveting read for everyone!
Profile Image for Tom.
3 reviews
January 4, 2014
If your looking for a good Christian Sci-fi here is where you start.
Profile Image for C.S. Wachter.
Author 9 books95 followers
February 21, 2020
Though this was the first superhero story I have read, the fast-paced action and likable character of Rob/Failstate drew me in right from the start. Failstate isn’t the normal typical hero, but he has a hero’s heart, brains, and courage. Except for a couple places where words were missing or added or incorrect (in other words a few typos), this was cleanly written and a pleasure to read.

I recommend it for anyone who likes a well-written, exciting story with a nicely developed main character and a rounded cast of support players.

I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

Profile Image for Jelvon  Doran.
17 reviews
December 14, 2017
All boxes ticked

I thoroughly enjoyed this first in the series. I've always been a fan of the superhero genre ever since my first Marvel comic back in the seventies. I was a little wary at first, what with this being a story about teenagers, but it's a real page turner. Humorous but not forced, tear jerking but not corny, full of action but not tedious, Christian but not preachy. A good allegory. I recommend it and can't wait to get suck into the next two books in the series!
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