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(Failstate #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  66 reviews
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 o ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Marcher Lord Press
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  312 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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John Otte
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, of course, I'm going to rate this five stars. :D ...more
Kat Heckenbach
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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, wh
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Failstate is about Rob Laughlin a wannabee super hero and his "perfect" older brother. The catch? They are both on the same reality tv show about super heros. When a friend gets murdered he is determined to find the killer and win the heart of a girl, but will his older brother ruin everything?

As a teenage girl who is sick of books with no plot line and boring characters Failstate is a breath of fresh air. I started it at 9PM and didn't put it down until 3AM. The verdict? This book is amazing. T
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 s
Jill Williamson
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, christian, teen, owned
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 ...more
Adam Collings
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 char
Steve Rzasa
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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? ...more
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: light
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.
J.M. Hackman
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Matthew Sampson
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Adam Graham
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 Gau
Becky B
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, ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: superhero, teen
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 o
Gillian Bronte Adams
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
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 ove
Sherwood Smith
Jan 31, 2013 added it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Rebel Rider
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 superhe
Jen McConnel
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ther ...more
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 clas ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 o
Feb 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Sharon Hinck
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jan 04, 2014 added it
If your looking for a good Christian Sci-fi here is where you start.
C.S. Wachter
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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
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