My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this from Goodreads which in no way influenced my review. When I first saw the blurb I thought either this is going to be great fun or it's going to be just awful. I'm very happy to say, it was great fun. Now, if you're not into superheroes you might not enjoy this half as much but it is so much fun for us comic book fans. Sure there are a lot of superhero and super villain cliches in this but that's what it's about. It's tongue very firmly in cheek and plays with the whole superhero genre.
Now there is a bit of hand-wavy stuff to get past like the whole genetic thumbprint thing. On their 16th birthday both heroes and villains thumbprints change to a V or an H as part of someone's genetic tinkering but that's no less believable than most hero tropes (radioactive spider bites anyone?). And that there are colleges for heroes and colleges for villains and the latter is completely tolerated (hey, if we can believe no one banned Slytherin in all their centuries of villainy....).
Enter Damien Lock. He is just turning 16 and plans to enter Vilmore college soon and be a supervillain just like dear ol' mom, Mistress of Mayhem. She can shoot laser beams out of her eyes and he's hoping something super cool like that too as his super power. Watching a hero/villain's thumbprint change is so fascinating people buy tickets to watch it. To Damien's horror, with mom and his ex-girlfriend but still friend, shape changing super villain, Kat, watching, his print turns into an X. Up until then he believed that to be an urban legend and he runs off stage before anyone can see. An X means you're half hero and half villain, yep that's right: Mom did the nasty with a - shudder- superhero.
Damien is crushed and pissed. This is almost as bad as Kat cheating on him with his best friend (which is why he dumped them both). Mom refuses to tell him who the hero was and continues on her merry way in the lab of evil. Damien wants nothing more than to be a villain but now he has this horrible thing in his way. What if he has a superhero power like flying? Not only is that superhero lame but he's so terrified of heights, he can't even go upstairs and won't enter a second story room unless he has no choice.
Using Mom's diary he finds out the disgusting details of his conception but not who. Undeterred, Damien narrows his list of suspects and to his horror, his father is Gordon Tine, the Crimson Flash. He's such a do-gooder he even has children safety shows and yes, naturally he can fly. Even more horrifying, Gordon now knows he has a son and wants to save him from his mother. Damien's mother agrees to let Gordon take Damien for six weeks (gives her boyfriend sleepover time) and Damien has to go live with his morally upright father, his hero wife and their three going to be superhero kids.
Damien finds himself in a normal high school after being homeschooled all his life and meets up with Sarah, the smart, strange outcast girl (reminds me of a cross between Winry Rockbell, Hermoine and Luna Lovegood)who wants to be his sidekick and maybe even a bit more to him.
Naturally Damien is torn between his two halves and this is one place where I didn't mind the love triangle between him Kat and Sarah at all. It nicely illustrates the dichotomy in Damien's life. Sarah knows he has a superhero father (and not about his mom) and thinks he's a hero, needs him to be a hero. Kat knows he has a supervillain mom (and not about his dad) and has grown up thinking they're going to Vilmore together. Damien isn't as evil as he might think and want to be. He couldn't stand how Sarah was bullied which brought them together for example. And he is shocked to see that the heroes have their very grey area as well.
Damien is a snarky little dick half the time and I love him for it. His snark is fun (as opposed to whiny or bitchy as it can so often be). Yes half the time you'll want to throttle him and after what he continually does to his poor father, it's a miracle the Crimson Flash hasn't just strangled Damien with his cape.
I read this in a day and loved every moment of it. I like all the characters, especially Damien and Sarah. Yes there is a lot of teenage drama llamas in this but they're 16. There should be. I'm looking forward to book #2.
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