'Superpowers' is a comic book but without any pictures, which frankly ought not to work but thanks to David J. Schwartz's fast moving prose, it does. Five college students wake up one morning and discover that they have acquired various (and typical for the genre) superpowers. Unlike many superhero tales 'Superpowers' does not rely on Good Vs Evil to drive its plot. Indeed, the novel's central message is that good and evil largely depends on perspective.
'Superpowers' explores the moral obligations of those imbued with supernatural ability in a far more effective way than having Tobey 'Spiderman' Macguire banging on about 'great power coming with great responsibility' every five seconds. The attempts of Schwartz's characters to come to terms with their powers and their responsibilities is very well actualised and extremely human.
Schwartz also tackles, with great sensitivity, humanity's failings and the feelings of inadequacy we all feel from time to time. By using, larger superpowered examples, he offers us a microscope with which to look at our own motives and ambitions. As the tension in the novel builds, real world events also impact on the group, distorting their world view even further. Their response, is an excellent (if thinly veiled) metaphor for the American led response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
All in all, I found 'Superpowers' to be a very satisfying read. The novel is well paced and manages to be describe the supernatural and yet remain believable. Excellent stuff.
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