Reviewed by Chris
AUTHOR: Rob Rosen
PUBLISHER: JMS Books
LENGTH: 243 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2017
Lucas has a typical life — apart from being abandoned as a baby, raised by wolves, and having super powers. Still, inside, he feels like two people, both vying for control of himself. He’s a superhero and a nerdy college freshman. He’s both feral and tame. He wants to do good in the world and, at the same time, he wants to do nothing. And most of all, he wants to find his birth parents.
In this comedic tale of romance, mystery, and adventure, our hero is joined by his hunky boyfriend, his acerbic boss, an uptight college science professor, and his ex-boyfriend/once crime-fighting partner — not to mention a whole pack of wolves — to help foil his nemesis and uncover the secrets of his past to save his future.
I’ve had a terrific run of off-the-wall superhero/villian stories lately, so I was kinda all over this book when it came up for review. The story of Lucas who figures out he is a super-human, who then sets out to become a superhero, with a wild and interesting cast of enemies and friends alike, sounded like a lot of fun. And the blurb did an excellent job of selling this book. It sounded right up my alley.
Unfortunately, from page one (from almost paragraph one) I ran into trouble.
I know, strange way to start a story, me screaming at you like that, but they say you need to grab the reader’s attention right off the bat. Help! I figured would do just that. Plus, you know, help was just what I needed. I mean, I was locked in a cage, my life in jeopardy of being snuffed out—which was par for the course, but still. In any case, help! seemed right on up there with the greats: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; Call me Ishmael; Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. And I only needed four little letters to get my point across. Take that, Judy Blume!
The almost instantaneous break of the fourth wall, the scatterbrained writing, they way it just threw in that line about how writers are told to catch the reader’s attention with the first line–all of it just totally tossed me out of the story so fast if I looked back there would have been dust swirling where I had been standing. It also had the unfortunate effect of making the story feel like a first draft of a writing assignment in Creative Writing 101. And from that moment on I couldn’t find my way back in. Instead of being submerged in the world where superheros were possible (and thereby the rules of physics and common sense were meant to be broken) every time something impossible happened in the story (and it damn well happened a lot) I found myself scoffing at it.
For example, when Lucas mentions that: “As a baby, I was raised by wolves in the mountainous wilds of Montana.” All my brain was saying, was: No, no you were not. Even though, in this story, he clearly was.
And when his best friend (who is like probably 17 years old) said he broke into a military base computer to steal the plans to some kind of super-Kevlar cloth in order to make them super-suits…I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Because a) despite the fact that Craig is apparently a genius, I didn’t believe for a second he could do this; and b) even if he could, I had serious doubts that he would then be able to construct this cloth that had to have taken millions of dollars to create and manufacture…especially since as far as I can tell both Craig and Lucas are like middle class kids out in the wilds of Montana.
Those are only two examples of the sheer leaps of faith that this book requires of the readers, and my faith didn’t even get me to the top of the building, let alone out on a ledge. This book kept asking me to believe the impossible and I just couldn’t do it. The combination of way this book just broke down the fourth wall as well as the first-person narrative made it nearly impossible. Because instead of drawing me into the story, it did the exact opposite. It threw this mess of a narrative into my world and let’s face it, in the real world, none of this has legs to stand on.
That is not even factoring in the way the plot was basically a sequence of deus ex machina reveals. Like, every single problem in this book was solved by some completely ridiculous coincidence. And it was all supposed to be some grand mystery–this search to find out who Lucas really was and where he came from–but to be honest, I didn’t care. I wasn’t sure why I should care about where he came from, or who he is, or why he can do the things he does. Mostly because I didn’t really care about him or any of the other characters at all. Also, I kinda stopped wanting to know where his powers came from after the utterly absurd suggestion that he got his powers by being bit once by a wolf. Not even a radioactive wolf. Just a normal, everyday wolf.
(And if anything made me question the genius of Craig it was his assertion that being bit by a random wolf would somehow change the genetics of a human being. Not even in comic books, dude, does that make any sense.)
I wish I could say more good things about this book, I do. It had a decent set up, but man was the way it was written so far from what I was expecting or hoping. Even for a YA book (and despite 3/4 of it taking place while Lucas is in college it is extremely YA–and probably not in the best of ways). The characters felt sophomoric–my god, by the time I got to the halfway point I would have paid to have Lucas stop mention his dick and what he wanted to do with it–and the constant scene breaks just so Lucas could go have sex or mention having sex, or wanting to have sex, were off-putting. It may have been true to life, as to what goes on in the brain of an 18 year old male, but it was tedious and repetitive and it slowed the pace of the story every time it happened. The guy is horny, I get it, time to move on, now…
Part of my eventual dislike probably came from my issue with YA as a whole, but even that could not explain away the poor writing and plotting of this story. It is pretty easy to read…but that is mainly because there is not a whole lot there of substance. The bad guy is exactly who you think it is, the explanation for Lucas’ backstory is everything you guess it is, and the characters never do anything to try and make this a fresh and interesting take on the genre of gay superheros. It is, in the end, everything you expect out of this type of story, and in the end that is its downfall.