Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Where There's a Will by Cari Z

Title: Where There’s a Will
Author: Cari Z
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Genre: Superhero
Length: 228 pages
Formats MOBI, EPUB, PDF, print

Being a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.

Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to put a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest Villains to undermine GenCorp—my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.

I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions—not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams—but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.

Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.

Once again, I’m coming in late on a series I now have to devour completely. I grabbed the first two Panopolis stories in a single volume, so I have goodies for later. Because I just enjoyed this book so much.

Our POV character is Freight Train, almost never known as Craig Haney, a Hero in a city that requires all augmented persons to choose sides. Stumble into, or choose, a superpower, and you have to be either a Hero or a Villain, no middle ground. In Panopolis (nice touch, this is Gotham City, Metropolis, Your Home Town, and a touch of ancient Rome all rolled into one), the Heroes not only protect the citizens from the Villains, they’re the bread and circuses too. It’s not a real rescue unless the cameras are watching, is it? But it’s not scripted so it can go down the toilet fast, and the real powers that be, GenCorp, don’t care what it does to the people who fight the battles.

The force field that’s become part of Craig prevents almost everything from passing in or out, but his invulnerability comes with some serious limitations on survival, and intimacy is another casualty. He can neither touch nor be touched, and he’s so much a victim of his celebrity and his power that to be called by his real name becomes the most human contact he can hope for. And he almost never gets it. How this author turns something so simple into heartbreak is an art.

Dr. Ari Mansourian does call Craig by name, and he knows a few things about his force field. But who is this mysterious scientist, and what is he really doing in the GenCorp labs? That force field makes their burn slow enough to answer questions.

GenCorp happily pits their manufactured heroes against one another, offering this one a reality show while that one languishes in obscurity, or poverty. There’s a grim undercurrent of favoritism, keeping everyone off balance and asking the wrong questions.

All is never as it seems, and there are twists, turns, betrayals, saves, and some smiles, in true comic book hero style, with depth and a wry humor. Characters from the first two books have parts to play here, which neither spoil the earlier books nor overwhelm this one.

The writing is wonderful, and the situations are classic superhero seen through the jaundiced eye of the person who has to live them. The plot twists are canny, and one major issue was resolved with such audacious perfection that I gasped out loud and then screamed YES! at my Kindle.

The chance conversation that led me to this book was a happy one, because I quit watching Batman 4 movies ago and might not have picked this one up. But I’m off to read the rest of the Panopolis stories, because this was a terrific tale in every way! 5 marbles

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