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There’s a lot to dig into.

By Sharkerbob, author of Graven

Oct 16, 2018: Not All Heroes is a gritty tale of superhumans struggling to achieve their ideals in a world where the concept of "superheroes" has pretty much evaporated. Clashes between superpowered heroes and villains nearly destroyed civilization, along with the rise of intelligent machines and supers gone completely insane. This forced surviving societies to reassess and adapt into a manageable compromise. Most supers now work as government-regulated law enforcement teams that deal harshly with empowered criminals, even as they conflict with with one another.

The story rotates between three main characters, each with their own goals and troubles that intersect, throwing them together into the larger conflict of a once-great city going to hell in a handbasket. Each arc also includes interludes from other character perspectives as well to flesh out the narrative and further build on the world and history.

On the good end, the story does not waste time getting right into the action and the grit. I never felt outright bored with a given chapter; the story has character introspection, cape politics, and action, but never overstays its welcome on any of those fronts. It’s nice to see main characters that are proactive right from the start instead of wallowing in their situation or being completely hamstrung by circumstances in the beginning.

Likewise, I feel there is good chemistry between many of the characters. There are a lot relationships and history between various pairs and groups, and the dialogue helps solidify those connections. The personalities all bounce off one another well, and the three main characters are good foils to one another.

There is also a lot of history to unpack, so there always seems to be a steady stream of new information about the world unfolding as you go. It’s a very "busy" world, with a lot going on, and a lot having happened prior to the story, that keeps those who like worldbuilding engaged.

However, that also leads me to what I feel is the main flaw. It does feel like a BUSY world, almost too busy, in fact. Very quickly, we’re introduced to multiple characters with multiple supporting casts and multiple organizations in conflict. What doesn’t help with this is that the rotating perspectives occur every single chapter. Now, I like rotating perspectives in web serials, but here, I feel doing it so quickly makes the initial couple of arcs rough to get through.

Other stories I’ve read that have rotating perspectives will either do one perspective per Arc, or at least do a few chapters in a row from one character’s perspective before switching. At the very least, this will be done in the first few arcs, to give the reader time to soak in the details of each specific character’s situation, before establishing the next.

While the main characters’ stories do quickly intertwine, the beginning few arcs were somewhat overwhelming, even for me. A few times, I kept losing track of some characters as I went. Thankfully, there is an extensive cast listing on the website, if you need the reminder. Now, granted, I was marathoning this story in a couple of big chunks, so that may have lent to that problem. This might be better mitigated if the reader takes a bit of a slower pace at first.

On that note, though, once I got a few Arcs in, and the characters started meeting up and everything was pretty well established, I found it easier to follow and groove into the storyline. It all comes together well, and even as the reveals keep coming, I had a firm handle on the core story by that point to roll with it.

I recommend this story for those who enjoy a rougher edge to their hero fiction, where the heroes have to grit their teeth and power through dark times but manage to keep at it, and also for those who enjoy a richly realized setting.

7 of 8 members found this review helpful.
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