League of Superheroes by Stephen Leon Rice
Published 2008 by The Writer’s Cafe Press, 158 pages.
In this short novel, four 14-year-old boys and a nine-year-old sister of one of them discover a “girl” named Genie in a chatroom. Genie is fluent in 26 languages and knows 17,354 jokes with minor variations. A machine? She also reacts to what they say and do with emotions. A girl? A puzzle, to be sure.
Genie asks them their interests. The boys say they like superhero comics. Genie volunteers to make them power suits conferring special powers right out of the comic books, with some scientific-sounding rationale for all the gadgets. In short order we have four super-heroes with super-powers, ready to take on the bad guys.
As the story develops, the five kids find themselves using the special power suits Genie sends them–to try to rescue Genie and the protector she calls Uncle from some really bad guys. The story resolves, but leaves room for a sequel. During the story, the narrator, Tom, and his friends live out their Christian faith. For example, Tom seeks to save the soul of a dying villain, and Genie’s soul as well.
This book has nice pacing and a strong underlying comic-book-style story, with believable bad guys. However, the four boys are almost caricatures–one of them is really good at computer hacking, another speaks a variety of languages, and so on. Their banter is pretty sophisticated too, invoking Voltaire for example. They’re also highly advanced on the road to sanctification, behaving with grace under pressure in a way that doesn’t seem realistic for 14-year-olds, or for adults either for that matter. But then, this is really a sort of comic book, right? I am supposing that a teen boy reading this might find them inspiring in a variety of ways. Or he might have trouble relating to them. I’m not sure which.
I expect this book will strongly appeal to Christian families who want their sons reading books that demonstrate faith in action. It will also appeal to Christian comic book fans. I enjoyed it, that’s for sure.–Phyllis Wheeler
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