Monday, April 1, 2013

"Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman

I haven't been reading a lot of books recently so I decided to do a review of a book I read some time ago. "Soon I Will Be Invincible" is a novel by Austin Grossman about superheroes and supervillains. As a big fan of comics, I just had to pick it up when I saw it at the bookstore.

The story starts with the disappearance of one the most powerful superhero in the world, CoreFire. As the superhero group he belongs to, The New Champions, investigate his disappearance, they also bring in two new heroines into the team, Lily and Fatale, to replace Corefire and another heroine who was recently killed.

One of the main suspects in the disappearance of CoreFire is his arch-nemesis, Dr. Impossible. Incarcerated in a maximum security prison, Dr. Impossible was interrogated but soon escaped and then initiate an attempt at world domination, the thirteen of his career.

From there, the author used two alternating characters to narrate the story and the novel is told from their point-of-view. The first narrator is a rookie hero Fatale, the female cyborg rookie of The New Champions, and  the other is the supervillain, Dr. Impossible. In between the story of world domination by the supervillain, we also get flashbacks to earlier times of both characters as well as what makes them the hero (and villain) they are.

Now I have read some superhero novels before, but "Soon I Will Be Invincible" is one of the best of the genre. The story uses some standard comic book story elements, like superheroes fighting supervillains, but it also inject different elements. Fatale's routine of maintenance of her cybernetic body and Dr. Impossible's battle and understanding of his own psychological problems were not things you would see in a comic book but in a novel, it works.

Also, the scenes that deals with the personal lives of the superheroes, how they cope with their powers and the effects their celebrity has on them and the people around them, works very well. Grossman did a fine job writing about the link between power and identity. Dr. Impossible had a powerful scene about the number of beings with superpowers in the world and linked how super-intelligent super-beings like him are far more likely to be villains than heroes. It wasn't just powerful stuff, it was also unusual and very smart. Basically, it was fun and unique, and in the superhero genre, unique isn't the easiest thing to do.

Also fun was the character of Dr. Impossible. He was without question the star of the show. Now although villains are almost always more interesting than heroes, but Dr. Impossible was a cut above. His desire for power and his internal struggles with his disease" shines.

Of course, the novel wasn't perfect. "Soon I Will Be Invincible" is Austin Grossman's first novel and it shows. The novel was stuffed with any and every comic book stereotype you can think of and many times, it seems he was trying too hard. The New Champions was almost a carbon copy of the Justice League and almost all the scenarios could be traced to stories in comics.

However, the book is a fun read and it has some cute twist in it. I mean "Malign Hypercognition Disorder", an "evil genius" syndrome? Now that's fun.  

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