Author: Liz Long
Series: Heroes of Arcania
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Available: 16th June
The streets of Arcania are overrun with crime, deteriorating as a madman named Fortune makes himself at home. He shows no mercy, striking down anyone in his path – including Nova Benson’s little sister. Devastated, Nova vows to seek justice for her family, but aside from her freak strength and impenetrable skin, how is she supposed to stop a monster like Fortune?
Cole Warner wants to help people. Entrusted to keep his family’s secret, he’s also frustrated at having to hide his gift. He knows he could do more to help in the fight against Fortune. If he could convince his sister Penelope to join him, they might even have a chance at beating him. When Cole meets Nova, he realizes his whole world is about to change. And he’s going to welcome it with open arms.
Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan.
Then again, neither was becoming a superhero.
My Spoiler-sense is tingling.
Also: rant. This book pissed me off.
You have been warned.
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
The dedication of this book conveys a fine sentiment. We definitely do need more female superheroes out there.
But do you know what we probably don’t need more of in the YA genre right now? Beautiful blonde heroines who are skinny just because, with gorgeous blue eyes and are so very kind (or so people say despite there being zero evidence of this), and who team up with blinding blond heroes with mesmerising golden-brown eyes that glint and glitter. Just look at that cover. Does it really say blonde teenage heroine to you? Because to be honest I had no idea this was YA when I requested it. Not that that’s a problem, but still, it’s worth noting. It may look and sound like it leans more to NA, but it doesn’t.
Do you know what else we definitely don’t need, in any book in any genre? Racial stereotyping. Race isn’t something that gets mentioned much in this book. In fact the descriptions are pretty sparse throughout, other than Nova being beautiful and having blue eyes, Cole being beautiful and having brown eyes, and the bad guy having nice suits and blue eyes. Which makes it all the more noticeable when colour, race, ethnicity or nationality are raised.
I didn’t take notes, but it stood out to me on six occasions. Two refer to Amber, but I’ll come back to her later as she is a separate issue. One refers to the Chinese man working in the planetarium who speaks in broken English, another is the black prostitute, then there are the Latino teenagers robbing a convenience store, and guess what? That convenience store is run by an Indian man. Offensive, lazy writing. Don’t do this.
Another thing we could have less of is a heroine who basically hates other women. Oh, Nova never says she hates other girls, but she doesn’t exactly think well of them either. The good friend Amber isn’t such a good friend any more, she sort of drifted away over the summer and now is too shallow for Nova, because she just wants to party. She dresses in low cut tops and short skirts, she flirts and eyes up the boys, and despite Nova saying how much she likes Amber, she really doesn’t. Then there’s Penelope, Cole’s sister, who is bitchy and mean and obviously hates Nova as much as Nova dislikes her. Other girls in the book are dismissed with rude comments (Brittany has no brain, but wow, what a nice house; the giggling girls at the party who are grateful Nova saved the football star because then they can keep looking at him; the girl texting behind the wheel who almost causes a fatal accident).
Positive female friendships are every bit as important as female superheroes. More important, actually, because they’re actually real.
As for the rest of the book, well, I found Nova’s powers (and Cole’s) kind of inconsistent and her lack of curiosity about her gift is pretty ridiculous. She has two people who have grown up with people who know all about the gifted, but does she pepper them with questions? Does she even once wonder where her powers come from since she’s told they’re inherited? Nope. And she withholds critical information because she’s protecting the people she’s endangering by not telling them the important information!
And that was before the vigilante stuff is randomly shoved aside because, oh, this is YA, we must now divert into pointless dating angst in which Nova can feel more mature and superior to her date before acting like a child to make Cole jealous.
No, just plain no. The only good part about that is when Nova takes her date’s keys to stop him driving drunk. Look, a positive message! Blink and you will miss it.
As for world-building – there isn’t any. I was expecting a futuristic dystopia, I got high school drama, with a rundown inner city and no sign or mention of life beyond. We’re in the US, but it’s a completely isolated bubble version, in which a gangland criminal like Fortune will take over the city and rob all the banks, but there is zero reaction on a national level.
Judging by the overwhelmingly positive reviews this is receiving on Goodreads, I must have read a different book. Bland characters, empty world, inconsistent powers, offensive stereotypes, to say I was disappointed in this book would be an understatement. The only reason I made it to the end was in the hopes that I was wrong and it would somehow turn itself around. It didn’t, it just hit me with clichés and unlikely scenarios with the villain. Severely disappointed.
SuperNova is out June 16th.
Visit Liz Long for more information.