Carriker evokes comic-book
action and disturbing current events in this debut novel.
Rusty longs more than most for the heady early days of superheroes. When he was a child, a mysterious event called the Shift granted some people superpowers, and unaffected Rusty was fascinated by them. But as years went by, things changed. The new heroes were outlawed by a fearful public who deemed superpowers (and vigilante activities) to be a net detriment to society. But echoes of the Shift were still felt in the post-hero world; soon, Rusty’s own superabilities appeared—the power to manipulate magnetic fields—but they seemed to cost him more than they gave him. Growing up gay and superpowered in north Texas, Rusty faced bigotry, but he was mostly happy, and even now, he still believes in heroes. So when a friend named Kosma—whom he was just starting to get to know online—disappears in Odessa, Ukraine, Rusty can’t let it lie. He also tracks down his idol, the hero known as Sentinel, to help him in his search. It feels like an unlikely partnership, at times, but people who fall through the cracks need heroes to band together to pull them out. This novel’s effective, understated worldbuilding is a treat, and the action is tight and fast-paced, but it’s the characters that really make the story exceptional. Rusty’s bright, colorful disposition is a welcome change from the grim, brooding countenances that often dominate modern superhero tales. That optimism makes the story’s harsher realities even more affecting. Readers also get to know a diverse ensemble cast, such as Rusty’s best friend, Deosil, including their hopes and fears. The alchemy between the characters’ chemistry, the story’s action, and the world’s pressing—and sometimes painful—similarities to our own make the book nearly impossible to put down.
An engaging story that punches, kicks, and takes flight, just like its heroes.