Category/Genre: YA/Superhero Fantasy
Pub Date: January 8, 2014
ARC Received from publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Dannie says: Not quite worship-worthy but still a fun read.
Ever since becoming an IWP—Individual with Powers—Marvin Maywood has dreamed of joining the Core, a group of gifted heroes who save lives and stop crimes. But because he's a homeless teenager who is forbidden to use his amazing powers, wanting and achieving that dream are two very separate things.
But when Marvin saves a family from dangerous hoodlums with his incredible strength and speed, his chance to try out for the Core comes at last. The opportunity seems like a dream come true—until he realizes that the idyllic hero life he imagined is just a mask for the corrupt reality. And when a beloved hero is murdered, Marvin is suspected of being the villain behind the crime.
WHAT I LIKED
The characters were fun and I was invested in their story. Though I would have liked more emotional resonance, which made characterization a like rather than a love for me.
The end of book romance--I was sort of hoping for that from the beginning. But the way it came about sort of came out of left field and didn't have enough organic build up, making it a like rather than a love.
WHAT I LOVED
The concept. I'm a sucker for a good superhero story, particularly of the X-men variety. I liked the twists the author included to separate this book from that series as well.
The comic book influence--the author's background shines through and for me was one of the book's biggest strengths. Totally lended authenticity to the fantastical elements for me.
I think a prequel to this book from The Core's perspective could be very interesting. It's hard to say more than that without spoilers but the background and motivation for some of the characters were unique and engaging for me--LOVE.
WHAT I WANTED MORE OF
Detailed, evocative imagery--the world of comic books and superheroes is a vivid, colorful place. I felt like the authors could take these elements further. I think maybe this is where the author's background in comic books worked against him. Without the images painted on the page for us, the words have to do the grunt work, and they fell a little short for me.
More present antagonistic threat--we're told a lot about the plight of the Dirties, but not a lot of it plays out on the page, even when important characters are involved. The stakes were not as high as they had the potential to be as a result.
I felt like the author could've taken the narrative voice further. It sounds either younger than 18 or too feminine, I can't decide which. But it didn't strike me as befitting an 18-year-old high school dropout who had been living on the streets by himself for many years. A good example of this is when the narrator is describing Mystic's beauty. For me, it totally felt like the sort of thing a chick would notice about another chick, not a guy and some of the word choice felt very young in comparison to, say, FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK, whose main character is the same age.
I don't really get the MC's feelings toward Eliza for most of the book. The narrative scope is too farsighted so I don't really feel anything chemistry wise. I wanted to be in his head and his emotions more (or at least the gritty, boy-version of emotions.) There weren't as many emotional highs and lows as I would have liked.
***spoiler in the next two paragraphs only***
For me the nonconstentual sex scene is completely devoid of impact. I wasn't sure I was reading it right until several chapters later when the MC finally processed what happened. As someone who has worked with male victims of sexual abuse this felt very inauthentic to me.
Researched and vetted details. First and foremost, there is absolutely no evidence of schizotypal personality disorder in Eliza's behavior. And the stereotype that people with psychotic disorders are sociopathic and violent is pretty discriminatory. As an industry we have to stop vilifying people based on a diagnostic label. Second, black tar heroin isn't a white powder. It's black and sticky. Thus the name. And it tends to enter the US through the Mexican border rather than on cargo ships.
Climactic resolution--for me it happens as a second-hand tell was a little underwhelming. Though as I whole I did like the way the story resolved. Fewer complaints about that than a lot of books I've read lately!
Short story long, I wanted to worship this hero story, but it fell a little short for me. I think it's a fun, light read and maybe a decent upper MG boy book, but that would depend on the cover price. Have a look for yourself and tell me what you think!