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SPECIAL PEOPLE

Ordinary people, signs of special writing

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Mar 11, 2012: "Special People" features a somewhat interesting premise for superpowers—characters have unusual abilities that very rarely come in handy. Instead of following a Superman or The Hulk, the story follows ordinary people.

I say "somewhat interesting premise" because there’s a reason comic books are about superheroes and not their neighbours—we all know what ordinary life is like, and there’s not much escapism in following an ordinary person whose arms can fall off, or who can make bacon appear in mid-air. Watching them in their odd friendships, dating mishaps and capers never has the thrill element of an X-men, issue, and never becomes as funny as a Friends episode either.

The story’s greatest strength is in the clarity of its writing—the author has a clean, descriptive style that can convey humour, tension and action very well. However, that skill isn’t being used to its full potential, as the story’s format prevents a real connection with the text. There will be short, one-off slice of life chapters about individual "specials" and their role in society, and then a series of chapters following a plot, and then another random one-off. It varies between humour, suspense, adventure and date movie—and ultimately the entire series begins to seem like a workshop for the writer to try different things without settling on one story.

While that kind of versatility is to be commended, changing gears so much means the story lacks an emotional core, a reason to get really invested in the story, its world or its characters. The series is clever and inventive, but it’s not emotionally gripping. The closest thing to a heart to the story is the character SMS, who is a "human cell phone" able to call and text people without carrying a device. He works for a man who recruits specials, and is working to betray this man for murdering SMS’s mother—the intrigue could be very suspenseful and intriguing, if handled properly, but the story drifts between so many characters and narrative styles that the opportunity to make the intrigue count is lost.

The chapters surrounding one arc, "King of the Dark" show that the writer, Tim, can focus on one plot, character development, humour and suspense and sustain them for an actual narrative that’s entertaining. When the talent is focused, it has some great results. Unfortunately, the rest of the series is trying to integrate too many ideas, without giving the reader time to focus on one enough to leave a lasting emotional impression.

If the author can find his groove and develop a focused, emotional core to the narrative all of the clarity, cleverness and humour might fuse to create a great story. However, as it stands it’s like watching a talented mind brainstorm before it finally constructs a masterpiece, and the problem with storms is they’re chaotic. A writer to watch, but maybe not the best forum for the potential being hinted at.

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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SPECIAL PEOPLE

Solid story

By Joseph Kranak, member

Feb 25, 2012: Special people is about a world populated by people with special powers that aren’t really all that special. The superheroes have more mundane super powers, like being able to create bacon out of thin air and create neon lights. And Sevenhuysen spins a interweaving set of story arcs involving these characters and their dramas.

The writing is solid: good characterization, strong story, attention to detail. And Sevenhuysen gets you interested in the characters from the get go. I think this is a story that is well worth the read.

Von’s complaint that the story is a bit choppy I think is legitimate, as it does jump around from short scene to short scene, following a growing cast of characters. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means it demands a more attentive reader. So, if this is the type of thing, I’d say check it out, read a few chapters and see if you get hooked.

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SPECIAL PEOPLE

Getting there

By Von, member

Dec 24, 2011: There’s not much of this book yet, but I’m looking for more. The writing is fairly solid . . . a bit choppy and hard to follow, but that seems to be a bit of modern style.

The world is very interesting: superpowers without a focus on superheros.

I’m looking forward to reading more.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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