Saturday, January 12, 2019

Morgon Newquist's Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One

So yup, I'm reviewing two superhero novels in a row. But sometimes that's a good thing. One of the weirdest things about being a book reviewer is the mental shifts I go through between books. I mean, I read the entire Honor Harrington series up to At All Costs in one fell swoop and only stopped there because that was the last book that was available at that time. I read through The Drangonlance Chronicles straight through and then Dragonlance Legends starting the next day. But when I'm reading things in an order that goes SF Comedy, Space Opera, Urban Fantasy, Superhero novel, etc. it get a little weird sometimes. As soon as I come down from the last book I read and its universe I end up in a completely different one. At least this time they were similar and my poor, abused brain didn't have to suffer as much. Come to think of it, I didn't suffer at all because Heroes Fall is a really good book.

Don't get me wrong. Heroes Fall starts quickly but you don't really get a full taste of what's to come right up front. This novel is a slow burn and a long build. I liked that about it.As you're reading pay attention to what is going on. It will be important later and that includes some of the stuff that you're convinced doesn't matter.  The stakes keep on increasing right up until the end.

Victoria Westdale is our heroine and she goes by her actual, real name. I found that a bit strange in a superhero novel. I mean, I had thought that I was going to get someone with named after a power or an bird or something but nope.. She's Victoria and she rocks. Victoria spends her time using her superpowers to bust small time crooks and working in a gas station. She's about the most unpretentious superhero I've ever heard of. In a weird way, her lack of pretense is what makes the whole story work.

Look, I like heroes in the Superman mold and I think Green Lanterns in general, and Hal Jordan in particular, are the greatest things that ever happened to the Superhero genre. I love watching those guys fly off to save an entire star system that's at war with itself armed only with their powers and a plucky attitude. I really do. That's not Victoria though. She doesn't set out to save the entire world. She starts out the novel trying to save one girl from a gang of thugs. That's the single biggest reason that Heroes Unleashed makes sense.

Victoria is a small time hero that gets caught up into something she hadn't anticipated. I like this approach because it allows her to learn what is going on. While she is learning what the problem is, so are we. We're not dealing with long bouts of exposition while someone takes us by the hand and walks us through the problem. We're actively learning about the world that we've been dropped in and we're not being talked down to. I really liked this approach.

Now that I think about it (Don't tell my mom I was thinking. She'll tell you it always gets me in trouble.) Victoria is pretty much the answer to anyone who has a problem with the "strong female protagonist" movement, and not just because super strength is her superpower. While it is true that Victoria is quite the asskicker there's more than just that to her. One of the strong themes of Heroes Unleashed is Victoria's caring nature. She's not just a woman with lots of muscle, she's a woman that wants to help. The superhero culture in the work is one of crass commercialism and Victoria rejects that, deciding instead to work someplace where she can make a real difference. I don't want to spoil too much, but she remembers her roots and works really hard to protect those who are like she once was. I have a lot of respect for this chick and I don't say that about too many people, real or fictional.

Any superhero novel is going to include a number of fight scenes and Newquist has done her job splendidly. Not only are the fight scenes fast paced and exciting but she groks that which lies at the core of a superhero fight: A battle between the participants and their powers.  When characters in Heroes Fall go up against each other it feels right because they're taking advantage of  everything they can, using both their powers and the way they interact with the environment around them. Newquist could teach a class entitled "Superhero Battles and How to Write Them." I'd probably sign up.

Of course someone out there is going to consider my praise for the battles as being a condemnation of the plot. They're wrong. I've mentioned the slow burn aspect of Heroes Fall previously and that's a big part of it. There's more to it than just that though. There is a lot of backstory here and it is woven into the plot seamlessly and in a way that makes it not just relevant, but important. There isn't a wasted page here. What is here makes sense though. It moves quickly and we're constantly trying to keep up, but it is about as logical and entertaining as is humanly possible. This is one of those books where I knew you had to go to work and that meant I should've been in the shower ten minutes ago, but let's fact face it, I'm a Lyft driver and I don't have a schedule so I can go ahead and read this next chapter and... uhhh... I was supposed to leave half an hour ago and I'm still in my pajamas. It's a good thing I don't have a boss.

I can't quite believe that I'm just now mentioning this, but Heroes Fall is the first in a new series. I believe it's going to be a magnum opus with multiple contributors along the lines of Chris Kennedy Publishing's Four Horseman Universe. I hope I'm right because the Heroes Fall universe is one with a lot of potential and more authors means I get new books faster. I'm Mr. Greedy Fan. I like that.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Thrown Vehicles

Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One
Morgon Newquist
Silver Empire, 2019

Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One is available for purchase at the following link:

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