Oct 13, 2013: Brennus reads as an interesting, if fairly standard take on the teen superhero genre. The story, an account of beginning teen gadgeteer superhero Brennus (a.k.a. Basil) as he forms a team with some friends and learns more about his city’s super powered environment, and the characters were engaging enough to capture my interest. The story seemed to bog down a bit where it began following another local superhero team, but then picked up again when the two teams began working together.
The work has a few flaws, however, one of which struck me glaringly in the face time and again as the author described his characters. I would recommend that he become less critical in describing people who have features or physiques that are non-standard to the ever-moving idea of “attractive” if he wishes to attract a wider readership. His obvious dismissal and/or disgust in describing people who don’t look like Barbie (if a girl) or Ken (if a guy) is likely to be off-putting to the average person, since there are few who fit this rather rigid description. I did see a bit of change in this attitude as I read on in the story, and I commend the author on Basil’s girlfriend as a step in the right direction, because he’s obviously attracted to her as a person, not just drooling over her luscious looks.
Which brings me to another facet of this issue . . . in particular, the first descriptions of women in the story are singularly salacious. For example, a very long and rather lustful-sounding description of the protagonist’s sister – in Basil’s own thoughts, nonetheless – kicks off the story, and it just continues on from there. In addition, the author’s flimsy excuses for featuring Basil’s female teammates naked or in their underwear made me feel like I had been dumped into some old Benny Hill episode. I think most women would agree that they’re not here simply for the author’s viewing pleasure, so if he has a desire to attract more female readers, he should consider not describing in detail the breasts of most of the women in the story, along with equally prurient descriptions of their bodies, and probably stop finding excuses for featuring them naked . . . unless he’d like to start describing and showing the men in his story to the same standard.
Another issue I found omnipresent was the amount of exposition in the story. I can tell the author is proud of the world he’s made, but it would probably work better for readers if he could find more naturalistic ways to explain things that need it – maybe snatches of information from newscasts providing vital information at the right time or young heroes studying meta-types for class, for example. The author did a better job of introducing the heroes’ opponents the Spiteborn with less exposition than he did for other things, and I’d urge him to continue more in that vein. Also, I would recommend the author use spell check and that he get a friend to review his chapters before posting them (e.g., it’s not “grotesk,” it’s “grotesque”). Much of the work is fairly well constructed, but then I would run into errors like that and they really threw me out of the story as I was trying to read it.
Despite its flaws, this is probably a story that fans of adolescent superhero fiction would like, and I urge them to check it out.
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