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Playing For Keeps

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,186 ratings  ·  186 reviews
The shining metropolis of Seventh City is the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, the grace to carry a tray and never drop its contents, the power to ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published July 14th 2008 by Swarm Press (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,186 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You may not know it yet, but you want this book. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Hey, Jason, maybe *you* want this book, but how do you know that *I* want it?" Well, nameless faceless reader, I'm glad you asked that.

If you like superhero stories, you'll like this book. It's got the usual fun action, adventure, and cool superpowers that make your inner fan-person go "squee."

If you don't like superhero stories, you'll like this book. Instead of focusing on the jet-setting antics of a few too-
mark monday
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
It feels mean to harshly criticize or even mock this action-packed dramedy about semi-powered B-listers stuck between asshole superheroes and slaughter-happy supervillains. Like mocking a pre-teen who is excitedly recounting their overly long and rather stupid superhero saga that is all about constantly running around and backtracking and regrouping and making phone calls and making plans and enacting those plans and doing those plans over again and going back to the same places over and over ag ...more
Jun 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The collection of folks with lame powers in a supers setting is something of its own subgenre, complete with its own tropes and dangers. The single greatest accomplishment of this book is how deftly it avoids most of those traps. Most notably, there are very few scenes where the heroes end up in a situation where their esoteric power is exactly the right solution, and thank goodness for that. Similarly, Lafferty does a great job of starting things off morally gray and keeping them there, rather ...more
If this book was a movie it would be a low budget Direct to Video one. Previously, I would have given this a 1-Star but I've evolved as a reader and am now mature enough to save my 1-stars to those books that are an abomination.

Areas in which this book was lacking:


Keepsie and her friends are Third Wave heroes, which are people with useless superpowers like keeping all bar trays upright or knowing things about people from sniffing them. In a town run by real superheroes and infested with su
Shedrick Pittman-Hassett
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
The “misfit superhero” storyline is nothing new. One of my all-time favorite movies is 1999′s Mystery Men about a team of wannabes who have to step up and become real heroes to save Champion City from the clutches of the evil and delightfully campy Casanova Frankenstein. That movie was based on characters from the cult comic book Flaming Carrot. There was also the The Specials, which followed the misadventures of the “sixth or seventh best superhero team in the world.” Another prime example is B ...more
My first ever episodic audiobook and it was pretty good. Read by the author herself each episode covered a couple of chapters in about 30 mins, providing a nice ear-sized chunk of super powers. The story follows a group of uniquely powered individuals, not quite powerful enough to be either heroes or villains, but caught in the middle of a battle between the two groups. Keepsie (our hero, if not officially a Hero) has the power to freeze anybody who tries to steal something from her, and - like ...more
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read the book, instead, I listen to the podcast of it. I loved it! This story gives you a unique twist about the whole superhero/villian story. Furthermore, the powers of some of the people in this story is ridiculously funny!! I didn't think I'd like this story as much as did. It's a definite listen. ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Upon discovering that Campbell Award winner Mur Lafferty had written a book about superheroes with shitty powers, I immediately bought it, and I have no regrets. Playing for Keeps is a fun ride.

Keepsie Branson runs a bar for members of the Third Wave, those with powers deemed too useless to be worthy of superherodom. Her power? No one can take anything from her. Hurrah, go fight crime with that. Her best friend can balance anything on a bar tray. BIG WHOOP. It's not invulnerability and flight an
Eric Juneau
A freebie, and the sole written word I've read from the First Lady of Podcasting. Mur's pixie voice and soft-spoken geekitude rings out in waves in this superhero novel - if the guys from "Cheers" were C-list superheroes forced into action, pitted against both superhero and supervillain. This is for the Matter-Eater-Lads, the Bouncing Boys, and the Lasso Kids of the comic book world.

Well, it's a good concept anyway. But the problem is the plot goes around and around and it never feels like you
Gail Carriger
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author-friends
I picked up Mur's book because I am a fan of her podcast and I feel it helped me to get published and I wanted to pay her back in some way. I'm very glad I did as I heartily enjoyed Playing for Keeps. I love her basic premise that in addition to major super powers there are minor ones as well. (I, myself, seem to posses the inexplicable ability to turn off street lights.) I'm a big fan of the secondary characters and of the love interest in this book. I was left wanting more.

I could also see an
Morgue Anne
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty is an interesting new take on the superhero genre. Just like in real life, you’re not entirely sure who the “good” guy is, because everyone in charge has their own agenda – the only difference is that these politicians have superpowers. Actually, almost everyone has powers, but the only people who get to have the “super” prefix to their names are the ones who have really good ones like flight and invisibility. Everyone else gets stuck with things like summoning ...more
Matt Hulgan
I really enjoyed the premise and the bones of the story, but the execution and pacing was not exciting or compelling. None of the characters were particularly likable and the Third Wave Demi-heroes were whiney cry-babies even after they realized they could get some stuff done when they work together.

I am guessing this is an early novel by Lafferty and that she has become more skillful. There's enough creativity here that I'm interested in reading some of her more recent work even though I was co
T Berry
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that I read as a kid but I wanted to reread now that I'm older and (hopefully) wiser. Actually I've already gone through at it least twice.
The first time, I heard it as a podcasted audiobook (then known as a podiobook) done by the author, which was a thing because it was back when self-publishing wasn't as accessible as it is now with Amazon and such.
But the podiobook got somebody's attention and the author got it published into a print book, which I then bought to su
Adam Oster
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can you go wrong with a book where the main characters have super powers like being able to throw a bar tray or shooting fecal matter from your hands or not being able to be stolen from?

And that last one, that's the one which gives this book its name.  It's the one that matters.  Because Keepsie (the main character) has a very special ability.  Anything that is her's is her's, unless she chooses otherwise.  And that's what kicks this book into motion.

Keepsie and her pals aren't exactly A squ
Vanessa J
Nov 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: superhero
This book initially started out promising.

It had an interesting theme - what about the people whose powers aren't on the same level of Superman or Wonder Woman, who are never quite 'good enough'? Had it stuck to that, it would have been fine.

Unfortunately it made the mistake of overpowering its main character, thus removing what made made her interesting and undermining its own message. Cannot recommend.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty is one of my favorite books I read this year, well written and thought-provoking as well as being suspenseful. However it was like this book was written by another author or when she was maybe 12 years old. The style was, I hate to say this, simply awful, choppy and disjointed. The characters were two-dimensional. But I won't give up on her, because the person who wrote this also wrote Six Wakes, which I can highly recommend. ...more
Andy Plonka
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I would not have picked this to read of my own volition, but to complete a task for my reading challenge, I read it. Still not my bag full of heroes, villains, and some in between type characters, I failed to find the sense in all this. I need more sense and coherence to get my attention, but I think the good guys (as opposed to heroes) won.
Jayar Smith
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book needs a sequel... I really appreciated He development of the characters... the written undertones of how people who were often overlooked become important and recognize their worth in critical times... The authors voice was also pleasant to listen to...
Bookosaurus (A book a day keeps reality away)
The premise was good and the characters were interesting, but somehow around the middle, I lost interest. The story just couldn't pull me enough to plow through the novel. There was too much of fighting, which I didn't care much for. Left it midway. ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awesomeness-2018
Not my favorite Mur Lafferty book but it was interesting.
Larissa Granato
I absolutely loved the first half, solid 5 stars. Sadly it didn't stay that good throughout the whole thing, but I still really liked it. ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, reread
Best when read by the author! This is probably one of my favorite superhero stories of all time. A bit rough in some parts, but that works with the sorry of the not quite super, powered people.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon Babb
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid tale of unlikely heroes with mildly, ridiculous powers. I particularly like how this book approaches villain development.
Wetdryvac Wetdryvac
A lovely read.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the Audiobook/podcast and really enjoyed Mur Lafferty's narration. ...more
Melissa Hayden
Ooh goodness, this was fun. Humor of personalities along with lame superhero powers. Yep, win-win. All need to listen/read this one. Fun and great story with superheroes and villains, and those in the middle. But think twice about who you think are which. ;)

When Keepsie is taken captive by Doodad, a super villain, and she finds he slipped a metal sphere in her pocket, the crew of Third Wavers that visits Keepsies bar stand with their friend and get drawn into the constant batt
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read Playing for Keeps back in Feburary. It's been sitting on my shelf for years and for some reason I never bothered, which is hilarious given how much I love this book. I mean I listened to it as a podcast before it was even picked up by the print publisher. I listened to the fan cast. The only fanfiction I ever wrote started out in Keepsie's bar. It was one of the first superhero things I ever actually liked. And yet, it sat ignores on myself for at least 3 or 4 years. And when I finally pi ...more
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, fiction, fantasy, 2008, 2009
Please note this book is available for a free download as a .pdf file here. The .pdf also includes a short story that follows the novel: "Parasite Awakens". You can also buy this book from .

Hang on to your tights and secret identity! Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty is an imaginative and entertaining new superhero story that will leave you looking at caped crusaders in an entirely new way.

The story revolves around Keepsie Branson, a bar owner in the shining metropolis of Seventh City
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Independent Autho...: Mur Lafferty, Jack Wallen, and more for cheap! 1 4 Aug 03, 2015 09:20PM  

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Mur Lafferty is the author of Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Hugo and Nebula nominated novel Six Wakes, The Shambling Guides series, and several self pubbed novels and novellas, including the award winning Afterlife series. She is the host of the Hugo-winning podcast Ditch Diggers, and the long-running I Should Be Writing. She is the recipient of the John Campbell Award for best new writer, the M ...more

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