As a fan of DC Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The BackUp Superhero caught my eye as an alternate approach to the superhero genre. In a world where superheroes don’t have actual superpowers, what does that mean for superheroes? My interest was definitely piqued by this review request.
This book was provided for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review The BackUp Superhero!
There are a few things that caught my attention about this book. First of all, the title; the “BackUp” Superhero. The synopsis offers just enough teases about what this could be referring, mentioning heroes that do all the work and get no credit, and then the mysterious “level D”. In our world, D is not a good number in any system. It’s mentioned that one superhero from level D, Tanser girl, has come to terms with her non-celebrity status. So if we assume that level D is similar to celebrity ranks, then yep, D is a very low rank.
That opens up a bunch of new questions for me. What is the superhero level system? What’s the difference between levels, and who decides what level a superhero is placed in? It also brings me to the other thing that caught my attention. As I mentioned in my introduction, the superheroes in this book have no superpowers. That’s quite unusual, and I’m interesting to see what that means. What is the difference between a superhero and, say, just an ordinary member of the emergency services or armed forces?
Lots of questions about this one and as always, the only way to find out the answers is to read the book 🙂
The BackUp Superhero is a novella and therefore, it’s a quick and easy read. It was an enjoyable and an interesting take on the superhero genre which picks up on some of the inherent flaws of the genre, namely the huge issue of accountability and the destruction of property that superheroes often leave in their way. In Hicks’ superhero world, superheroes enjoy a celebrity status, with Level A superheroes at the top and Level D at the bottom. To become a superhero you must go through rigorous training and if you become injured at any point you have to start all over again. At the end of the training, if successful, heroes are placed into a Level and each Level “knows their place”.
Level D’s place is to stay out of the way, help out as much as they can, and never ever get in the spotlight. As the title of the book suggests, they are “the backup”. Like all systems it’s hugely broken and there’s a lot more happening beneath the surface which is what the book is about. The plot is interesting, and the protagonist, Tanser girl, is likeable, as is the barkeeper Frank. I couldn’t stand the other level D superhero, Dwighter, who was extremely irritating throughout.
I personally favour novels over novellas, and that certainly did affect how much I enjoyed The BackUp Superhero. While I enjoyed the story, I felt like I was just getting the first part of a novel rather than a complete novella, or even a complete short story. The way the novella end felt a little incomplete to me, with one event being concluded while the wider story arc was only just beginning. Just as I was getting into the story, it abruptly ended. Despite my preference for novels, this isn’t my first time reading fiction in an episodic format, and in this case it felt like the end of a chapter rather than the end of a novella.
The BackUp Superhero is an interesting and enjoyable start to The BackUp Superhero series, however, for me personally the emphasis there is on the start. Thankfully book two is already available to read so if you loved book one you can head straight onto book two to continue the story. Both books are available to read on Kindle Unlimited. While The BackUp Superhero had some intriguing world-building, it just didn’t quite get there for me in terms of plot and characters. For readers looking for a fun quick read it’s right on track, but for readers who prefer a bit more of a meatier read, like myself, you might find it not quite your thing.
Books by Kayla Hicks
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