Super Human

Super Human

Author: Michael Carroll

Publication: 2010, Philomel Books

Pages: 325

Overall Rating:  bth_35_zps7a173504[1]                      

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_5-star-rating_zps467d5332[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: A secret society, known as the Helotry, is planning to bring back the first super human – Krodin, a being of immense power who in his time enslaved much of the known world.  If their plan succeeds, Krodin will throw our world under the weight of a tyranny unlike any we have ever known.  The only thing standing in his way is a group of untrained and untested young heroes.

Age of Main Character: 16 or so

What I Liked the Most: Sure, some of Carroll’s heroes fall into the standard mold – one has super speed, another has telekinesis, and of course there’s the hero with no special powers at all other than the genius to come up with kick-ass technology.  But Carroll has also developed a few heroes that, from my experience, felt a little more unique.  Abby is super strong – but only when dealing with metal.  So her punch is like any other punch, but she can wield a sword that would take ten normal people just to lift.  Thunder can manipulate sound waves.  He can hear things at a great distance, block out sound, or even use sound to attack.  And Pyrokine turns matter into energy.

In a world full of adult heroes, Carroll also manages to create a believable scenario in which all the adults are out of action, and the only heroes left to fight to Krodin and the Helotry are kids.  It adds an extra flare of desperation to an already tense situation.

What I Liked the Least: Even at the end of the book, I never really understood why the Helotry wanted to bring Krodin back.  Beyond a few vague allusions to how they wanted to be slaves, their motives felt shaky at best.  And that put a damper on things.  I just couldn’t stop asking myself why all this was happening, why the Helotry had been able to recruit so many zealous followers.  From the information Carroll provides, I felt like the Helotry should have been devoted to making sure no one like Krodin ever took over the world again – not to bringing him back.

My only other real complaint was that the book ends very abruptly.  Krodin is defeated (that’s not really a spoiler since this is a superhero book and the good guys have to win.) and three or four pages later the book’s over.  There’s not a lot of time to devoted to following up on what happens to the characters after Krodin is gone.

How Good was the Action?  Nonstop.  The fights can get fairly intense, and range from sonic attacks to guns and old fashioned fisticuffs.  There’s plenty of blow-by-blow detail.  The only real downside is that some of the fight scenes lack a lot of emotional depth.  Well, that’s probably true of the book as a whole.  This is a straight-up action story with fairly minimal attention to character development or emotions.  They’re not absent, but they’re not the main focus either.  I’ve got no problem with that, but it does remove an element of tension from many of the fight sequences.  So they’ve got a lot of great detail and innovative action, but they sometimes lack the emotional thrust that puts a fight scene over the top.

How Engaging was the Story?   Let me re-iterate.  This is a plot-driven novel.  You’re not going to find a lot of character depth to draw you in.  So don’t expect to get all caught up in some angst-driven struggle.  It’s simple.  You’ve got a handful of kids who’ve never met before, but suddenly find themselves drawn together and faced with bringing down a powerful organization bent on bringing back the greatest and most violent warrior of all time.  They have to fight, think, or trick their way out of one hopeless dead-end after another.  And if you can set aside your need for emotional depth, you’ll have a lot of fun going along for the ride.

Overall Assessment: Super Human is straight-up superhero fun and a great addition to the genre.  It’s got enough epic battles and impossible odds to impress even the most jaded of superhero fans.  And Krodin definitely makes his mark as an utterly despicable villain.  So go ahead.  Read it.  You’ll enjoy.

Profanity: None

Sex: None

Violence: Yes, and some of it is fairly bloody.  The first chapter is especially violent.  In later chapters, very few people die, but there are plenty of broken ribs, bruises, cuts, and the like.

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