COLLATERAL DAMAGE by Taylor  Simonds


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This YA debut stars two orphans who live in a city that benefits from—yet is somewhat plagued by—superheroes.

Seventeen-year-old Meg Sawyer resides in Lunar City. The metropolis suffers hardly any crime thanks to the Genetically Enhanced SuperVariant Program, which uses a serum to give people superpowers. Four heroes exist at a time, each with one of four abilities—telekinesis, invisibility, speed, and strength—and they serve for two years before giving up the skills. While Lunar City is safe from normal crime, the Supers frequently battle exotic villains, like Doctor Defect, in broad daylight. Both of Meg’s parents died during chaotic super-fights that trashed the city. But Meg is unsinkable. She’s got her GED, works at The Pure Bean cafe, and is best friends with a fellow orphan, 18-year-old Oliver Lee. One night, after super-fighting damages the cafe, Meg hustles to deliver a financial claim to City Hall. She finds Super No. 3 in a dumpster, injured. He says that his time as a hero is almost over, and he’d like to give her money for a fresh start in a safer city. Meg is overjoyed and hopes that Oliver will join her. But before leaving, she stumbles on evidence that the changing of the superhero guard is a more sinister affair than the public realizes. In this novel, Simonds dances gracefully on the line between realism and the many colorful tropes of the superhero genre (including chemical spills and animal bites). Excellent pacing regularly introduces characters who keep the plot fresh and fun, like Juniper Jensen, a “biogenetic engineering assistant” who helped create the Super serum. When Meg sneaks into the Saint Charles’s Academy to discover the identity of one of the Supers, aficionados of the Spider-Man comics and films should be charmed by clever—and nerdy—plot developments. Later twists, some more predictable than others, generate higher stakes for the heroes and Lunar City organically. The author maintains a consistent YA tone, never indulging in over-the-top content that some writers in the genre lean on. The potential sequel has an incredible jumping-off point.

A spunky and jubilant love letter to superhero fans.

Pub Date: June 25th, 2019
Page count: 309pp
Publisher: The Parliament House
Program: Kirkus Indie
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