I am a sucker for superhero novels, and I was intrigued by the author's marketing of this self-published novel. That's right, this is a self-published novel. Leigh Ann Kopans apparently found an agent, but the agent was unable to interest any publishers in this book, so Kopans decided to go the "indie" (I hate that disingenuous and misleading term) route and publish the book herself, with a professional cover.
She should have spent a little more money on editing; in general, I found the book to be written well, but there were enough grammatical errors, sentences that were missing verbs, and other clunkers that professional editing should have caught, that I would say this is a manuscript that could have been greatly improved with another round of polishing.
That also applies to the story, unfortunately. There was potential here, but weak worldbuilding and cardboard characters left nothing to distract me from the insta-love teen romance between Mary Sue and Mr. Perfect Cute Tame Huggable Boy, which unfortunately takes up more page count than the interesting stuff, like superpowers and evil scientist conspiracies.One
starts with some interesting ideas. It's a couple of centuries in the future, and there was a "World Uranium War" that released radiation into Lake Michigan, causing mutations and superpowers. Okay, that's a suspension of disbelief I'm willing to give the author as a gimme -- — it's no dumber than most superhero origin stories, especially in novels where you have to come up with a single origin for all
the superpowered people.
A true Super has two
powers, which is what actually allows them to function as supers. Explained this way, it makes sense — flame-projectors, for example, need invulnerability or regeneration along with their flame powers or they will give themselves burns every time they use their powers. Likewise, someone with super-strength but not a super-strong skeleton who tries to pick up a car... well, it won't be pretty. Teleporters, if they don't have super-senses to let them see where they are teleporting to, are likely to meet with grisly ends. And so on.
Merrin Grey is a "One" — she has just a single power, and much to the disappointment of her Super parents, it never became anything else. She can float, but she has no propulsion ability, so she can't actually fly. Most Ones' powers fade when they get older, but Merrin, unbeknownst to her parents, has continued to practice, unwilling to give up.
When she is finally written off as unpowered, she is transferred from Superior High, where all the super-kids go, to a "normal" high school. Here she meets Elias VanDyne, whose sweatshirts she will spend most of the rest of the book sleeping in.
I want Elias — kissing him was enough to tell me that, and I’m not stupid enough to deny it.
I want to fly more than I want him. Way more.
As unbelievable as it was, it wasn’t — could never be — it’s not flying on my own. If I fly with Elias, I can’t fling my arms out to the side and feel the nothingness speeding between the earth and me. Not unless he carries me.
And no matter how good it felt to kiss Elias, to be so close to him that I felt his heart beating in my chest and the vibration of his speech against my skin, I don’t want to let him carry me until I know I can carry myself.
Elias turns out to be a One also. Elias has some friends who are also Ones. Elias's twin sisters are Supers, like Merrin's twin brothers. There is a Hub, which is the super-secret-except-they-have-annual-expositions-for-all-the-local-high-school-students-to-come-see scientific facility that does research on Super powers. Merrin wants to go there because she thinks they can unlock the genetic puzzle that prevents her powers from manifesting.
Naturally, sinister conspiracies are uncovered, Merrin and Elias learn how to do Things, and two sixteen-year-olds realize their eternal totally mature and believable love for each other.
So first of all, this is a very, very girly book. If you like very girly books, you will probably enjoy it more than I did. I guess I should have been warned off by the cover, but hey — superheroes.
The romance is a much stronger element than the superpowers and the conspiracies. And I can tolerate romance. I do not expect sixteen-year-olds not
to be googly and stupid for each other, because hey, hormones.
Yeah, so here is the cover for the sequel, Two
You can practically hear the author squeeing.
Elias is the ideal boy for Merrin (who, incidentally, is a super-genius and totally cute and her big "flaw" is that she has a semi-useless super-power, and anyone she likes turns out to be nice and anyone she dislikes turns out to be evil, and all of her guesses turn out to be right — yes, I am going to throw the Mary Sue card here). He's nice, and gentle, and sweet — but manly! — and loves his sisters, and never acts like a jerk, and even though he's in love with Merrin he never tries to do anything she doesn't want to do, and they are literally super
-compatible and urgh-hurk!
Okay, on the plus side: I kind of like that Merrin is a genius and is neither modest nor boastful about it. And while Eliaskissykissywoowoo is the perfect boyfriend, Merrin has realistic reservations about boys after meeting some Super boys who are not
perfect boyfriends. And the One/Two angle is actually rather inventive.
Even if you like
girly YA romances, though, I felt this book failed in most other respects. For example, for a world with superpowered people, we sure don't hear much about them. They exist, but they don't seem to have done much to change the world. And for a world set in the 22nd century or thereabouts, it sure resembles our world an awful lot. They have smart-houses and faster Internet, but otherwise high school and suburban living seems to be pretty much unchanged.
But what really caused me to revise my estimation of the book downward, after some initially mildly positive feelings despite the onset of kissy-kissy-woo-woo, was the direction the plot took with the conspiracies and the villain. Namely:
1. Most plot complications came about from people just not telling each other stuff they could easily have told each other.
2. The villain's evil plan consisted of lying about things that... there really wasn't much reason to lie about. I mean, at the end I tried to reason out why
everything had to be kept secret, instead of just telling everyone involved what they were doing. It was a case where enlisting voluntary cooperation would probably have been easier and less risky than playing cloak and dagger games and being Really Evil.One
is not terrible; it is aimed solidly at teenage girls who want to swoon over a cute guy, and if you are in that demographic, it's probably a decent pick. My bad for wanting a superhero novel.
2.5 stars, and normally I'd round up to give the author props for writing and marketing a self-published title that approaches professional quality, but I am rounding down because reading other reviews has revealed that the author has earned herself a place on one of those authors-behaving-badly shelves that Goodreads no longer allows. Bad author, Ms. Kopans: no half-star for you.