Author: Cari Z.
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 4.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/13/2015
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Paranormal
Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.
I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.
It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.
Edward Dinges is back, though not as he once was. Nope, now he’s with his Villain boyfriend, Raul aka Mad Bombardier, and things are even more complicated. Panopolis is shaded with many a grey area, most of them dangerous, some less obvious than others. The Heroes aren’t always right. The Villains aren’t always wrong.
Edward is using his power to great effect, one on one. It also hasn’t improved his opinion of himself, or his desire to help more than hurt others and, he’s still a bit in awe of Raul and this love they now share.
”I thought you’d like it,” Raul said, and there was nothing but honest pleasure in his voice. No smugness, no annoyance at my pickiness. Just hundreds of hours’ worth of work in order to ease my mind. What had I done to deserve him?
This story opens at a subdued pace, which is good. It allowed me to settle in and reacquaint myself with the lay of the land and the characters and where everything stood after the end of Where There’s Smoke. This would be the only time this book was anything remotely resembling subdued. It speaks to what a good communicator Cari Z is, she’s dialed in and knows what she wants and how to portray it. She also knows how to give me enough to feel included in the story while leaving much for me to discover and conclude on my own.
From now on? The pace is fast and furious, as are the events that unfold, some of them stomach-turning and had me biting my lip and sitting forward, on the edge of my seat, wondering how the hell things were going to turn out. This is definitely a darker story, more gory, blunt, and brutal than book one. Morality has become and even more slippery creature, the level of evil has been upped, and the result of these is the emotional toll has risen in price, and bodies, and fear and consequences.
I did find myself questioning the level of ease with which Edward accepted this new stage of his life. He seemed ok with many aspects of what he was about to do, what it could mean for people he knows. It felt incongruous with the rest of his personality and previous actions. We’re reminded a few times about what he suffered once arrested, and then detained by GenCorp and the “experiments” forced upon him which led to his new power. I couldn’t quite buy into that as the reason for some of his actions and thoughts, it still felt off, I couldn’t reconcile. On the flipside, it made me want to go back and reread Where There’s Smoke, see if I could make better connections. That’s definitely a plus.
The focus of this story is the massive struggle brought upon Panopolis by GenCorp and their unfettered manipulation of just about everything. It’s a battle between those who choose to support the behemoth, which includes much of those in positions of authority, and those who see the cracks in the reality those authorities are trying to maintain. What a roller coaster ride of a read this is! Unexpected turn after unexpected turn, characters desperately trying to accept and survive their changing realities, and realigned alliances which force everyone to approach the barely contained chaos of Panopolis in unforeseen ways, and all of it is handled through Cari Z’s confident writing.
I can’t wait to see what happens next! Roles are being redefined in huge ways, many of the rules set out by those in power are under constant attack and beginning to show the strain, and despite what many people think, Edward and Raul and the others don’t exactly have a clue as to what they’re doing and what will happen. In other words, this still ain’tchur momma’s Superhero vs Super-villain yarn, yo. 🙂
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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