Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman
I was skeptical of audio books. Could the reader bring to life the words in the same manner I do when I read? Could they evoke the emotion of the characters and bring about the depth of personality captured in text. I can’t speak for every book, but the voices of Paul Bohemer and Coleen Marlo delivered a snarky, blasé, and almost condescending tone perfect for this book.
Dr. Impossible is a super villain who has been captured and imprisoned for life. Again. He’s the smartest man alive (or so he frequently proclaims) and he gives us the run down on the status of the universe. How many aliens, mutants, robots, time travelers, and so forth, currently inhabiting Earth. Superheroes and their villain counterparts are the norm. There are more team-ups and superhero groups than can be counted. Instead of being a hero, he begins to examine his choices, the ones that lead him down the road of villainy. The cliché’s being encountered are numerous, and he mocks each of them, sometimes simply stating, “It’s what you have to do,” and other times laughing at other villains and their incessant need for admiration. Couple with Bohemer’s voice which has a snarky drone to it, you can imagine the man reading to you is smarter than average and almost too good for this. It works beautifully.
Fatale is the female protagonist (or antagonist depending on your point of view) who is a woman turned cyborg through a deadly crash. More of her body is composed of steel and wiring and a power source sits in her stomach. Her story begins as she is recruited to the Champions, an elite second generation group of superheroes teaming up to fight the most deadly of criminals. Along with Fatale, a trial membership has been offered to Lily, a superhero from the future, invisible to the naked eye, and capable of many powers, the most notable, the fact her ex-boyfriend is Dr. Impossible.
The Champions are in a quest to find who kidnapped Corefire, Dr. Impossible’s primary foe, his arch nemesis. No signs point to Dr. Impossible, but everybody is sure he’s the man behind the job. This bit of mystery drives the book as the superheroes decide their plan of action and Dr. Impossible begins his next scheme to take over the world.
What make Grossman’s book amusing for me, is the constant references to past events. He discusses the time aliens invaded, and that one time the they fought against robots taking over the planet. He doesn’t go into depth, but any comic fan will instantly say, “Oh yes, I’ve read that plot before.” The book even delves into the history of how heroes and villains are made and what decisions could have been altered to change the course of history. He knows how to balance the action, the mystery, and the slow build. He’s true to geek form and delivers a satisfying number of smirks and guffaws throughout the book. Comic book lovers will understand they are amongst their own.
I won’t give it away, but even the ending came as a shock to me. I’ve become so used to identifying the tropes and the clichés to the point where they’ve lost their surprise. However, at the last chapter of the book I had a moment where I went, “Oh crap, didn’t see that coming.” I was delighted and surprised and at the same time, couldn’t imagine how I missed it all along. Grossman does a great job of weaving it into the story without bringing attention to the shocker.
If you’re looking for a superhero book full of snark (and let’s be honest, you should be) this is perfect. If you’re looking to listen to some snark on your way to work in the morning, this is also perfect. The narration is exactly how I would have imagined it in my head. So overall, great book and a must read for superhero geeks out there.