Format: Paperback, 384pp
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Pub. Date: June 2008
(Note: this cover is the UK one. I just like it better)
The big question with this one is: Do you have to be a comics fan to get it? Easy answer: No you don’t. But it helps. Reading this novel you can tell the author is a huge fan. Big names like The Hulk, Spider Man, and Batman are dropped pretty early on and a conversation with a comic book store clerk confirms the fandom. But even if you aren’t into the graphic side of life there’s a good chance you’ll find something to like about David J. Schwartz's Superpowers.
“It all started with a party, which is damn convenient if you ask me, and if this weren’t a true story I wouldn’t expect you to believe it.” Marcus Hatch, an ex-reporter for his college paper with a bent toward conspiracy theories, writes in his introduction. He’s the one who recounts the tale of five collage students who suddenly find life holds more than they thought it could. In Wisconsin, on a street called Mifflin, a group of average collage kids get together to celebrate the end of term. The five settle into their home brewed beers never expecting that they will wake up the next morning and everything will have changed.
All five wake up with a superpower. Jack, a farm kid going to school full time and working, brewed the beer and wakes up with speed. Charlie, who has a crush on his neighbor Caroline and always seems to be worrying about something, wakes up with the power of telepathy. Caroline, the flirt that has caught Charlie’s attention, can now fly. Harriet, dedicated to the school paper and her love of music, can now turn invisible at will. Last but not least is Mary Beth who wakes up with super strength, a power that fits her best because out the whole group she could use it the most.
What these five discover is that having superpowers isn’t all fun and games. Each character has hardships and obstacles that they must face and overcome before they can grow and truly understand themselves and the gift they’ve been given. They have to decide if they should keep this to themselves or do some good with it by sharing with the world.
Superpowers will definitely hook you if you’re a 15 and up guy. There’s drinking and some sexual situations so this isn’t a book I’d pass off to anyone younger. And the writing is styled to hit the older market for young adults and beyond. It’s bittersweet, a lesson buried in there if you want to look about morality and responsibility, and if not the story is entertaining and unusual.
We’ve all heard the old adage ‘write what you know’ and to an extent Schwartz has done that. Sure he might not have the superpowers (or does he?) but he lived on Mifflin Street (where the characters live) and spent a lot of time in the area he based his novel around. You can feel that while reading, that this is a real place and real time and that maybe, just maybe, this could really happen.