Monday, August 15, 2016

Panopolis by Cari Z

Title: Panopolis
Author: Cari Z
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Genre: Science Fiction/Superheroes
Length: 22500 (Smoke) + 31900 (Fire) total 54,400 words
Formats Mobi, EPUB, PDF

Panopolis, the City of Heroes: a place where exciting things happen every single day. Things like mad science, reckless public endangerment, corporate espionage, and political puppetry.

You’ve got to wonder, why would anyone ever want to move here?

And once they get here, why would they ever want to stay?

Maybe for the excitement of watching real super-powered Heroes battle it out with Villains every day—preferably from a few hundred yards back. Maybe for the chance to become one of those Heroes, brave and stalwart and always doing the right thing.

Or maybe . . . just maybe . . . some people stay because they prefer to take their chances with a Villain or two.

Contains the complete texts of Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1) and Where There’s Fire (Panopolis #2)

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Where There’s Smoke

Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

Where There’s Fire

Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul — aka the Mad Bombardier — and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.

I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.

It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.
These two novellas definitely belong together, being the first and second parts of Edward and Raul’s story. Each has a complete story arc, but the second is definitely better for having read the first. Usually we get things from the Hero's perspective, but the Villains often have more interesting things to say.

Edward’s our POV character, and at first he’s just a normal guy, new to town, who’s an innocent bystander sucked into the action between Villain and Hero because he’s standing where the money is, in a bank.

As the fallout from his ordeal progresses, he gets to know Raul on a personal level, and begins questioning all he’s been told about this strange city where super-powered people duke it out for truth, justice, and television ratings. Edward does a little math, which gets him questioning how and why this public mayhem is not only tolerated but encouraged. There’s a very dirty underbelly to the rivalry, and the running commentary from the mysterious SuperTruther points out some of the ideas Edward is groping toward from ground zero.

Because oh my goodness, Panopolis is one fucked up place, where the corporations run amok in people’s lives and maybe only the “bad guys” have the right idea. They certainly have enough flash to attract the train wreck of Hero attention, at which point things really go to hell.

While Edward is feeling his way toward his place in this urban jungle, he meets Freight Train, the Hero of  Where There’s a Will, reviewed here.

Freight Train’s starved for affection, and tries courting Edward, a situation bound for trouble, because Edward can’t admit to being involved with the Mad Bombardier.

Trouble from Book One catches up to Edward and Raul in Book Two, and here’s where reader squeamishness and the story don’t mesh well. There’s a graphic and horrible event, and even at one remove, it was really stomach turning. It went from a kind of comic book violence to something much, much too real. I had to put the book down and go for a walk, and only my trust in this author made me finish. The aptly named Maggot is only one of the Villains Panopolis offers.

The story isn’t over, in this town where manufactured superheroes and their equally manufactured worthy enemies fight and keep the attention from far worse doings. Maybe SuperTruther will get a story?

I can’t separate ratings for the books because they’re so entwined in my head but even with the need to drop the Kindle like a poisonous snake there for a minute, this was a good read.

The stories are available separately, but I would recommend buying the single volume so you don't have to pause reading after the first. 4.25 marbles



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