The earth is protected by superheroes – who are really nothing more than vigilantes with some sort of unusual power. But this book isn’t the story of one of those superheroes … not really. This is the story of one of the many, an innocent bystander who happened to be in the area where a superhero and a supervillain are squaring off.
Former Navy SEAL Jon Hayes and his wife Melanie (pregnant with their first child) are witness to a moment when superhero Captain Light is attempting to bring the criminal Jade Shade to justice. A super-powered battle is always going to draw attention and a news helicopter was already in the area to get the best shots.
The fight was reaching a fevered pitch, creating a stampede of people trying to get out of the way of the supers. The fight takes to the air and Jade Shade reaches out and grabs the helicopter to hurl it at Captain Light, who knocks it aside. But by knocking it away, it goes hurling into the stampeding crowd below, which has swept up Melanie who is directly in the path of the falling helicopter and is killed instantly.
And so begins Jon Hayes’ singular focus of avenging his wife and unborn child. To do so, he must study and learn everything he can about Captain Light and the other superheroes, and some surprising revelations come to light. Among them, he notices that the same people seem to be bystanders over and over again at superpowered fights. He even spots himself … and his family? … at one.
Jon recognizes that by seeking revenge against Captain Light it puts him in the role of villain, but he has no other choice. Perhaps literally? Is someone else behind it all, pulling the strings?
I really liked the concept of the book, although I do feel as though the idea of superheroes as a problem is almost too common now. I also found that I liked author Rik Hoskin’s writing, but at the same time, the book was a bit over-written. There’s a lot of action in the opening couple of chapters, and the ending, with its twists and turns, holds the reader’s attention, but the very large middle portion of this book is one very long set-up which has Hayes planning what he’ll do, then questioning himself, then planning, then questioning, and so on. Fortunately, Hoskin’s prose keep the book flowing pretty smoothly, but if 100 pages were cut from the middle of the book, I don’t think it would affect the story.
I liked Hayes, but the fact that we’re told he was once a Navy SEAL (and told this more than once) always felt emboldening. I never really got the sense of this man as a SEAL – he seemed a lot more ‘everyman-ish’ than strong, military type.
I’m glad to have read this, and fans of superhero novels might find this an enjoyable read.
Looking for a good book? Bystander 27 by Rik Hoskin is a modern superhero story with a common Joe taking on a ‘super’ (if your common Joe is a Navy SEAL), and the story offers up some fun twists along the way.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
author: Rik Hoskin
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 400 pages