Author: Cari Z
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/02/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Science Fiction
Being a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.
Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to puts a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest villains to undermine GenCorp—my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.
I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions—not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams—but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.
Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.
There were times when being completely untouchable was depressing. And then there were times like today, when I was so damn grateful for my power I could almost cry.
It’s the safest of safe things to say that Cari Z is fawesome at writing in first person. She knows her characters, including our narrator this time, Craig aka Freight Train, and their voices, how they think. She communicates all of these things without making them feel insular like some stories from this point of view can feel.
As for Freight Train? Man. He’s in a tough spot. He’s bought what GenCorp has been selling him regarding the status of his power and what this means for the rest of his life as a Hero. He’s bought it because it means his survival since he believes he doesn’t have much to offer anyone beyond this job. The rub is that this job and being under GenCorp’s control goes against his naturally caring self, a kind of person who feels the pull to do the right thing even if he doesn’t like it, and it means his naturally affectionate self will never get to be truly affectionate with someone ever again. In other words, not much has changed for Craig since we first met him early in this series. Except, it feels like he’s ready for things to change if he’s presented with an opportunity.
From the get go, I had that feeling of wanting more for Craig, wanting him to have all of the things he dreams of but doesn’t believe he’ll ever have, or even feel worthy of fighting for.
Enter mysterious scientist dude, aka Ari Monsourian. One, he has an awesome name and, two, he doesn’t seem to be the typical GenCorp suit, whether in a lab or otherwise. Would he be the opportunity Craig needed? I was hoping. Oh, I was hoping. There was more than meets the eye going on with this guy.
Cari Z is a sneaky one, slipping in those slice-you-through-the-heart moments between the action and the humor. She builds these tendrils of connection that grab hold and carry us through the story.
Speaking of, I like the way this one builds. No easy answers, no quick ones at that, no immediate connections between characters that feel forced in order to move the plot forward. Instead, the mysteries evolve rather organically, with people making choices and taking actions that are consistent with their characters as we know them to be in those moments.
As for supporting characters? They all play their roles, including those that made me want to scream at them, call them jerks and worse, especially Ray and Memaw. Selfish son of a guns.
But then we have Ianthe and even the likes of Jean who round things out in the right direction.
My one issue with the story are most of the action scenes. On their own, they’re great, as well done as ever in physical description and pacing. For me, though, they lacked connection to the story in terms of furthering the plot while maintaining the characters as front and center of the whole show. They felt disconnected, sometimes reiterations of emotions and other things we already knew the characters were feeling. Add to that the big reveals being pretty obvious, and the action sequence factor in this fiction equation didn’t work so well. I kept asking myself, why is this happening, why is it important? The dastardly dastards behind the events are barely revealed so there’s no substantial connection to the motivations behind them, beyond the obvious. Maybe that’s why they fell short for me, they were too obvious and depended too much on what we already know going into this third book in the series.
Everything else in this story is spot on on spectacular: the continued blurred lines between good and evil, the unique character traits and rules governing this society – and some of them are clearly a commentary on our own – and the emotional investment these characters demand of those reading their stories.
This entire series is a clever, humorous, entertaining take on the usual treatment of superheros, villains, how regular folk interact with and react to them, and it’s all done in Cari Z’s energetically cheeky storytelling style. G’on, have fun with this one. 🙂
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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