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By Galahad Strange, member

Nov 14, 2015: So I read as far as I possibly could, before sitting down to write this review.

The way powers manifest is interesting. It sounded, to me, like a good idea until I read some of the implications of this, (Chapter 7, World War II for example.) It wouldn’t have made such a negative impact on me, if it were not coupled with how poorly race is treated in the entire story. (Or rather, that racism isn’t handled at all.)

I thought about attempting to list every instance of racial or sexual micro-aggression but the list quickly became too long even before I got past the fourth chapter. I’ll pick two and extrapolate.

  • “Didn’t know Amber enough to have an opinion, but she was kinda cute as far as black girls go.”
  • “I wasn’t exactly an expert on Asian features, but her last name was ‘Nguyen’, so her features probably came from wherever that was.”

I understand that the narrator is a 16 year old boy, but when these type of things are said in narration and never addressed as a negative thing In the story, it almost gives off the feeling of passively condoning them. Thinking and acting on the thoughts are different things, but when we (the audience) are looking directly into the thought process of the main character, it’s harder to defend the separation.

“As far as black girls go”, because what? He thinks that as a whole, black girls are not attractive? Not as attractive as other races? Or just compared to white girls?

“Wasn’t exactly an expert on Asian features,” Well, She probably considers herself American.

Actually, that’s a problem I had while reading. I could not stay immersed in the world. Probably because I am fairly uncomfortable with how Zach thinks. (Disclaimer: Do all teenage boys think like him? Who knows. Not I.)

Was the clothes being ripped off a, supposed, 14 year old girl integral to the story? Or Laura’s breast implants-

Actually was anything done with any of the female characters necessary to the plot in any meaningful way? All the pretty girls in his school are portrayed as dumb (Not to mention “slutty”), and all the smart girls are, at best, “average”, or “not pretty”.

With probably the exception of Erica, who we know very little about. Here’s what I gathered from the story. She was Laura’s best friend. She was not interested in Zach, stating he could be “cute in a few years” but not her type. She’d dress “slutty” to tease Zach. She was raped and murdered before the story. So technically for the “most important female” in the story, she actually wasn’t alive at any point during it. He was so torn up by her death, he gained super powers, but not so torn up that he couldn’t make rape jokes. (“Yeah, if you want to get mugged by a junky, raped by the dealer, and then arrested for prostitution”, chapter 14) Not so torn up that he turned down Cassie, because he’s still hurting over the death of the girl he “was kind of a stalker for.”

It seems like all the women in the story (with the exception of Laura and his mom) are out to get him, manipulate or use him in some way. (“Ferne was nice to me, all the while hoping to turn me into a resource. [ . . . ] Cassie was using me as some kind of status symbol or whatever. And Kitten was . . . I had no idea what her game was, just that something was going on in that twisted mind of hers, and it included me. And now there was Anima and Muwth.” Part 16)

“I felt my blood start to boil. Hispanic or not, crap lighting or not, I could tell the girl was young. Younger than me, probably. Memories of Erica at our house, getting patched up by Laura for a black eye or split lip hit me like a truck.” (Chapter 16) Ah yes, Erica’s name being invoked once more for Zach’s man pain.

All in all, I read through 16 chapters before I finally could read no more.

In this chapter, it’s confirmed that Erica was special enough to Zach to cause him to surge, and in basically the same breath, say that his privacy (on the small scale of outing himself at first to a class, and then apparently embracing it and outing himself further on the track) is on the same level of “important thing” to lose, to gain more power. (And it’s said that his sister is the only other person he has who he cares about, so surging again, would mean losing her.)

The things I thought were cool or interesting in the story were all eclipsed by how much I didn’t care for the narration or Zach. At one point, I was even rooting for Kitten, albeit briefly.

At least Kitten was deplorable, and it was acknowledged that she was an actual terrible being.

Compared to Zach, the protag that I’m supposed to at least in some part identify with (and couldn’t).

Maybe it’s just this protag I can’t get behind (as low a chance as that is), I would at least attempt to read the other stories set in this universe by this Author.

My favorite scene was when Zach was experimenting with his powers on the track, I could almost get really into it.

And there were a few lines of nice witty dialog in parts.

8 of 12 members found this review helpful.
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