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They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded

(Dark/Spark #2)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Award-winning author James Alan Gardner returns to the superheroic fantasy world of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault with They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded.

Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven't even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up in
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Tor Books
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  247 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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A fond homage to the comic book superhero. The books feature four young women who have accidentally acquired super-powers. The first book featured Kim/K/Zircon and this second book is all Jools/Ninety Nine. I loved Jools in the first book, so this one was a treat.

Jools is the jock who had been drinking too much and flunking out of university up to this point. Now she has some kind of mental link to the internet and mad inventor skilz. Previously, her main aims in life are to play hoc
'They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded' sees the return of our newly sparked superheroes (or at least group of friends who are pretty sure they want to fight for the side of light and heroics but haven't quite come up with a team name or defining goal yet - the latter is something that they really should do before 'The Light' starts assigning one to them as sometimes 'The Light's' assigned goals can get a wee bit rabidly all consuming and somewhat blind to any collateral damage). Its been a few ...more
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Four plus stars. The (first) sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, Gardner's new series set in a world just like ours except (a) in Canada, eh and (b) in the recent past the "rules" changed such that both the Light/Sparks (empowering superpowers - and thus heroes and villains) and the Dark (empowering magic, and thus magic-users and magical creatures) exist - often in conflict. It's fundamentally a simplistic concept that in the hands of a lesser writer would likely have turned out ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gardner's The Dark vs Spark series has quickly become my favorite recent book series. The stories are set in a world where the 1% have used their money to gain immortality from The Dark and become vampires, werewolves, etc. and The Light has responded by turning random people into superheroes or Sparks. The protagonists are four college roommates in Canada, all different science majors, who gain superhero powers and must work together to try and save protect their town.

Each book feat
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a good follow-up. Told from a different characters perspective, but not a re-telling of the first story. It was about as fun as the first, but I didn't like it as much. I think because the main character of this one (Jools) was a little more dark a character than K was, in the first one. Not dark as in "muahahaha I will destroy the world", rather dark as in "alcoholic to cope with my problems." Which, mind you, was done well, it just added a little more seriousness to what was going to ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-series
This series is so underrated; its a ton of fun. The Spark-Dark universe is ridiculously simple but also deep and fun to read. I'm looking forward to getting more stories from Aria & Dakini's perspectives.

With that said, I thought there was a slight but noticeable tone shift. The first book is a little lighter and sillier, with a bigger focus on our main four Science girls. This book is really focused on Jools/Ninety Nine. And if the first book is about the rush of getting all the
Liz (Quirky Cat)
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded is a sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. However, I never read the first book before I started in on this one, and I had absolutely no trouble following along with what happened. Sure, I likely missed some context, inside jokes, and things like that. But that’s okay, I still enjoyed They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Lo
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love everything about this series- it's funny, quirky, smart, unique, and full of bad-ass women. This installation changed narrators to another of the four heroines, so I assume that Gardner plans on writing four in total with each narrated by a different heroine- which I'm ok with! I can't wait to see what he has in store next for our courageous crusaders! (Can't say caped because they're all smart enough to know capes just get in your way.)

Edit: Found this on the author's website
Tim Hicks
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This lightweight story is developing some mass as it goes. Gardner balances action, humour, superpowers, and a bit of philosophy, and adds an excellent sense of pace.

Like others, I soon tired of the "Olympic-level everything." Might have worked better if she had been Olympic-level at some subset of abilities.

I liked the development of the, well, other teams. I'm not even sure they can be called Bad Guys. Some mean well but do bad things; some are conflicted; and so on.

Four characters, so pre
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, supers
I enjoyed the first in this series very much; this one a bit less, primarily because of the main character. It was very skillfully done, though, and entertaining.

It needed to be skillful, because the author saddled himself with some drawbacks. His characters are all excessively powerful, with several unrelated superpowers, each of which on its own would be enough for many superheroes. The main character of this book, Jools, is "human maximum" in any ability you can name (with exceptions I'll no
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, superhero
I loved All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault and timed it such that I finished it just as the sequel was released. This book focuses on Jools, another of the four housemates who get caught in a lab explosion and gained superpowers. She's the jock of the group, and the one who's struggling most with her studies. This combination ends her up with immediate knowledge of anything that's part of the corpus of public knowledge and Olympic-level mastery of any human skill.

Despite thes
Summary: This is a sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. It follows a different member of the super-team, but tells a similar type of story, in which the protagonists deal with a superhero-level crisis, while the viewpoint character sorts out their personality problems and grows as a person. Anyway, the POV character in this one is Jools, whose power is “being human-max in everything but not actually super in anything.” Before becoming super, she was something of a fuck-up, and this, combined with ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
There were a lot of 5-star moments in this book, but I really wish the author would stop apologizing for, or explaining superhero silliness at some point and just tell the story. It's is a good story with loveable characters! At least apologize after the fact (this example is not a spoiler for this book):

Some ran, while others took cover as the countdown timer neared zero. Only several seconds after the expected explosion did the hero remember that superhero timers only count down t/> ...more
Sebastian H
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What starts as light-hearted enough to qualify as an entertaining comic-booky novel, ends up showing enough gravitas to sucker-punch some really interesting ideas about superheroes, supervillains, and how each manipulate each other (and the public at large) while being manipulated themselves by the Light and the Dark' ageless conflict.

(view spoiler) ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As with the first book, this was a lot of exciting fun. The story is from the perspective of Jools (Julietta Walsh) AKA Ninety-Nine, the hockey super-hero. As with the first story, most of the action happens to our viewpoint character, but in this case, even more so. Jools' team-mates hardly get any screen time, which means that Jools' development as a character is really the focus.

Gardner does a good job of expanding his universe while still shoehorning in some relevant social commentary, part
Stephen Hull
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I was expecting this to be good – and I wasn’t disappointed. The follow-up to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault takes place very shortly after the events of that novel and, while you can still have a lot of fun reading this on its own, you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve read that one first.

Jim has changed narrator (narratrix?) to another of the quartet of newly-created superheroes, something which he will repeat for the remaining parts of this tetralogy. This is a great stra
Nicolas Knight
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
It's not horrible.

It's not great but it's not horrible.

i read the first novel as an interesting take on the Super hero novel.
What i got was indeed an interesting take if not perfect.

This is taking all the bad parts of the first one and making them worse.

And not picking up any of the good parts (just to be clear.)

The protagonist has shifted from the interesting Zircon whom we grew to like to her alcoholic self destructing friend. ...more
Tim Fiester
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Four-plus stars. The book's story was a lot of fun, with some great twists. My only complaint is the protagonist: It was tiresome hearing that she's "Olympic-level" in every little thing she does (for example, chemistry, lock picking, and so on), which meant that most things weren't all that hard for her (this was the same complaint I had about the protagonist of "Ready Player One"). Luckily for the reader, Jules has the common sense of a 10-year-old with the libido of a teenager; this is what m ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-sci-fi
Solid sequel featuring the earthy Spark superheroes in Waterloo, Canada. Jools and her roommates get caught up in a Dark scam featuring a magical bazooka and a floating Sherwood Forest. Hilarity and explosions ensue, with a bit of world-building thrown in to explore what being a Spark might mean to you if you're a college student one day and then not. Still fun and the devil-may-care young heroine seems to be maturing a bit as her experience grows and she gets more exposure to older Sparks and D ...more
Lauren Bourke
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The second installment in this series focuses on another member of the Waterloo Spark team, Jools, giving us a different perspective on the whole new super hero situation. Jools is a louder, brasher voice than Kim (now K) was, but she struggles just as much with her identity, especially the whole who she was vs who she is now paradox.
This series is exactly the type of scifi/fantasy I like. Not overly serious, relatable characters, and tackles modern subjects, like gender identity, in a res
Henry Lazarus
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
love fun tales of superheroes and James Alan Gardner delivers in a second tale of Jools and her friends who became super in a world with darklings like vampires and demons and sparks. They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded (ebook from Tor) tells of a bazooka possibly created by the supervillain Diamond. Robin Hood and his gang want to steal the device, and their capture of Jools, somehow puts her in the middle of the theft. With lots of super fighting and impossible odds, Jools confronts her ad ...more
Geoff Clarke
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another fun ride from Gardner - lots of explosions and fighting. Gardner does a great job in both books dropping the reader into the action right away.

It did not grip me as much as the first book did. Jools is a great character to see events through, but I was not fully convinced about her character. There's a long piece of action in a totally different place that didn't wow me.

Even so, I hope there are more volumes. I want to see the undergraduate female superhxxxx sparks ride agai
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
In book two, our heroes, fresh off an improbably victory against a Mad Supergenius, find themselves still learning their powers and pulled into a fresh intrigue orchestrated by powerful Darklings.

We have a new narrator this time and the action's a little different, since she's off...elsewhere...for most of the story and we don't get as much of the teamwork vibe. But more machinations, more battles, and more plot evolution. I particularly liked the pregnant ending.
Liked it better than the previous volume, if for no other reason than that the fight scenes don't drag on for 30+ pages. I did get slightly annoyed that the narrator mentioned her level of drunkenness 10 times in the first 18 pages (yes, I counted). I also felt like the ending was a bit weird -- like the characters were reacting in a particular way because the author needed them to For Reasons, rather than because it was an in-character way to react.
Jennifer Gottschalk
Dec 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
The title was possibly the best ting about this one. It's a superhero / fantasy story with a weak plot and strong female cast.

If you enjoy superhero comics and are into teenage fiction, this one might pass muster. If you are a self respecting adult, save yourself some time and give this one a miss.

Regrettably there were no redeeming features or hidden depths this time around. They say you can't judge a book by its cover but this time you can.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was nice to get the perspective of a new hero from the first book. The constant spiraling off topic/plot and the relentless "I'll do X cause I'm an Olympic level X-doer" was draining, but if you can get past that (which is easier in print than via Audible, but i managed), than you'll experience a great story of self discovery and some dope super hero action scenes. 3.5/5
Nicole Luiken
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Canadian superheroes! Just as much fun as book one All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault. This time around we get a different narrator: Jools, who of course has a different superpower than Zircon in book one though they are part of the same superhero team. It took me a little while to adjust to Jools, but I was strongly hooked by her Mad Genius blackouts. Good action scenes.
Joan Wendland
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This follow up to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault continues the fun at breakneck speed. Gardner continues to deliver with expert pacing and a boundless imagination. Looking forward to more sequels!
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure about the first book in the series, All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, but thought I would give They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded a go and I really liked it. It has a light feel with a nice sense of humour. Looking forward to the next one in the series.
Brian Gaston
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I don't think this type of book can be written much better. I give in a 4.5 just short of "one of the best of all time" which is my 5 rating. The characters are engaging and the creativity of inventing super powers is great; the humour is spot one.
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Raised in Simcoe and Bradford, Ontario, James Alan Gardner earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo.

A graduate of the Clarion West Fiction Writers Workshop, Gardner has published science fiction short stories in a range of periodicals, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Amazing Stories. In 1989, his short story

Other books in the series

Dark/Spark (2 books)
  • All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault