Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeper than I expected, and better, 6 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Superpowers (Paperback)
We've probably all wondered what it would be like to have powers -- to fly to work when we can't be bothered with the traffic; to turn invisible in horrible situations; to run away at light speed; to hear the thoughts of those around us; and, perhaps, to throw people through brick walls.

In Superpowers, the first novel of David J. Schwartz (who, much like a superhero, has many different aliases throughout the Internet: world renowned motivational speaker; popular science writer for children, et cetera) we learn just what it would be like have those powers, and the answer he gives is funny, well-written, and often quite sad.

Five American college students, decide to have a party, and home made booze is brought along. The very next morning they wake up with superpowers... Now, before everyone goes rushing off and gets totally inebriated ("in the name of superpowers!"), their powers aren't an entirely great thing to have. Hardly super at all, really. Mary Beth is so strong that she can't open the fridge without tearing it apart (or make love to her boyfriend...); Charlie goes pretty much insane with all the minds he can hear, all the emotions that wash over him, and now wanders around wearing a tinfoil hat and a scruffy beard; Harriet is invisible and is worried she's fading away; Caroline, though, can fly, and has no problem with that fact; nor does Jack, who can run faster than the fastest bullet. Eventually, they decide that they will use their powers to help their city -- and in come the superhero costumes (they have, after all, started reading comics) and the late evenings. Most people are pleased to have them around -- except the police, and criminals.

Eventually, though, things go wrong. Mistakes are made, people are hurt. And horrible truths about their powers come out...

This was a very funny novel. The humour is grittier than I expected, but it really works well in bringing this all down to Earth and fleshing out the characters, especially Charlie. There were times also when it was very sad, particularly towards the end as everything falls apart. David Schwartz does a very good job of taking an alternate look at what it would be like to be a superhero, and finds that not everything is hunky-dory.

It probably treads slightly on spoiler, but I've seen this around on the net -- people being turned away from the book because of the fact that 9/11 plays it's part in this book. Like me, when I was reading it, they were worried that superpowers and 9/11 would combine in a very lame story and slightly sickening story. Well, it didn't. There is no real Big Bad in this book -- just the realisation that everything comes at a cost, often very high -- and it didn't turn into superheroes beating the hell out of terrorists (as Superman did in the 1930/40s with Hitler). If anything, it was the instant hate that arose after 9/11 that ruined everything for the heroes.

Superpowers is funny, it is energetic, witty and sad. It can't read your mind, travel faster than light, or turn invisible, though -- which is useful, really, or you'd miss this rather excellent book.
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Location: UK

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