Pull on your tights and hang that cape around your neck, we’re going for a ride. What kind of ride, you ask? A superhero spoof ride, a dysfunctional family ride, a marital struggle ride. A ride into redemption.
When mild-mannered Dave Johnson ends up with a alien symbiont enabling him to imagine reality, what does he do with this power? Years of reading comics comes to his aid, as the kid at heart and his naivety lead him to take on the persona of a superhero. Dave is a little dim, but his heart is in the right place, despite the temptations of power and the best ways to use it, especially when the symbiont intends to use Dave to take over the world. Yet, Dave isn’t stupid either. He has a head on his shoulders.
But despite this fact, he finds success as a superhero, but not a lot of success as a father and husband. While superhero action abounds, there is minimal tension created by his fights. His power allows him to dispense justice all too easily that few villains have a chance, though a couple of times they make some valiant attempts. But the superhero part is mostly for spoofing anyway, not for creating a thrill ride.
Rather, the the real tension of the story evolves from the complications Dave’s secret job has for his wife and children, not to mention his enemies. The heart of the novel revolves around family, right and wrong, the misguided ways we tend to deal with our hurts, and grace, all wrapped in a light-hearted story that will have you chuckling and smiling.
The writing is solid. The characters while at first appearing stereotypical (what do you expect with a spoof?) take on depth as the story progresses. The personal struggles are easy to identify with and provide the strength of the story. It is an easy and enjoyable read.
I found two areas primary that I felt the story could have done better. First, the superhero adventures themselves didn’t feel like an integral part of the full plot. They felt somewhat random at times, appearing to exist more to cause problems with the wife and kids than to be an complete story arc themselves. Mind you, I’m not saying they didn’t have some story arc. One of the villains who comes in and out of the course of the book has his own character arc, and some stories have their own mini-arc, but as far as each adventure fitting into a complete novel arc, it was hit and miss. I think the story would have been better if that could have been developed as a more complete story arc.
The second is that while the resolution is believable, and the motivation of the characters not totally absent, I felt the resolution to be a little too quick and needing a slower development, especially on one of the characters. What happened is not unrealistic, and happens in real life. But for a story, it appeared to arise abruptly.
Despite those two issues, this book was a fun read. If you like spoofs of superheroes, with a story of redemption against the evil Dave faces not only on the streets of the city, but also in his family and within himself, then this is the book for you. The story gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me. I enjoyed it.
Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book by the author.