Joseph D. Carriker, Jr.
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The golden age of heroes is decades past. The government could not condone vigilantism and now metahumans are just citizens, albeit citizens with incredible talent, who are assisted in achieving normal lives (including finding good fits for their talents employment-wise) by a federal agency.
Rusty may have been a kid during that glorious age but he remembers his idol, Sentinel, saving lives and righting wrongs — until he was outed in an incredible scandal that forced him into isolation. When a gay friend of Rusty living in the Ukraine goes missing, Rusty is forced to acknowledge that while the world’s governments claim that super teams are outdated and replaced by legal law enforcement, there are simply some places where the law doesn’t protect everyone — so he manages to find and recruit Sentinel to help him find his friend. But the disappearance of the friend is merely one move in a terrible plot against queer youth. A team of supers may be old-fashioned, but this may be a battle requiring some incredible reinforcements.
A very human superhero story, very enjoyable!
This is a cleverly crafted book about superheroes, what makes them tick, and how five of them from very different walks of life, come together to form a team, a sacred band, to right some of the wrongs they've seen but weren't sure how to fix. The main characters are fully realized people, with depth and complexity rarely seen in works of superhero fiction. Some of the characters carry deep emotional scars, other are still coming to terms with what it means to have extraordinary abilities. While the setting is fantastical, who these people are, and how they interact, are entirely and relatably human. It's also quite refreshing in queer fiction to see characters romantically interested in each other rather than simply falling graphically into bed. Finally, the scenes in Portland, Oregon, are lovingly filled with details that only a resident of the place would think to use, though the descriptions of other locales aren't quite so evocative.
That said, I hope for the future books, Mr. Carriker is able to find someone who can catch the minor continuity issues I found while reading, things like the operability of one of the main character's phone (one scene it's fried to a state of non-functionality, the next it's being used to show photos to other people), the names of organizations being used by the main characters before they discover the names of the organization, and a couple other minor nitpicks. None of these took me wholly out of the book, but they did cause me to pause and double check to see if I had missed something (thankfully on my digital reader I can search for terms and confirm that they had indeed not been mentioned previously).
In summary, I very much enjoyed reading this story and am eager to see how the world expands in the (hopeful) follow-up novels.