From Rainbow Book Reviews: The fact that villains are flawed is not exactly a secret. But in this story the author has taken that a step further, and developed a situation where superheroes have flaws as well. As a result, the world she builds is one full of ethical conundrums, universal truths suddenly questioned, and a group of people - or rather superhumans - who are bitterly divided along the lines of good versus evil. In this world, superheroes exist without the benefit of a secret identity and supervillains are the ones fighting the good fight and trying to protect “the people” against corrupt officials out to take advantage of them. This upside-down morality (as compared with traditional superhero-dom) is very much in line with today’s world where “the government” does not always act in the best interests of the majority they supposedly represent, and where corrupt politicians at all levels throw a spanner in the works of anyone trying to decide what is right and what is wrong. Max’s mother explains the need for supervillains very succinctly, right before the final confrontation: “Our society has been conditioned to believe being tracked and controlled and powerless is normal. We offer more than that.”
Max is a pretty typical teenager, well, except for the supervillain bit. His mother is the typical “professor in the throes of invention” when she works on her doomsday device in the basement, and a great fighter when facing the superheroes who are trying to stop them from activating the bomb. Max also has a lot to worry about - he has to keep his identity secret if he wants a college education since colleges don’t like supervillains among their attendees. And then there is Crush, a boy his age who happens to be a superhero and his constant adversary, except n school, where they are both just boys.
Max’s struggle to make sense of the world has happened – he knows that the city council is corrupt and why he and his mother are fighting them. What is less clear to Max is why Crush annoys him above and beyond being his archenemy, and how to make him see the error of his ways. This story tells the tale of the two boys growing up a little as they begin to make their own decisions and devise their own rules. Aside from being great fun and very tongue-in-cheek, this adventure has a beautiful message about the importance of not believing everything you are told, and about the need to figure out your own values.
If you like superheroes and want to see what happens when they have to deal with today’s reality, if the perspective of a teenager on world events sounds interesting, and if you’re looking for an entertaining read with a thought-provoking message, then you will probably like this novella.
See the full review here.