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‘Superpowers’ super fun

  An original new book is hitting shelves this week in a single bound: “Superpowers” by David J. Schwartz.
  This debut novel is funny and clever, if a little light on substance, but that’s OK.
  Five college students wake up after a night of boozing with more than just a hangover.
  Jack Robinson has super speed; Caroline Bloom can fly; Harriet Bishop can become invisible; Mary Beth Layton has super strength; and Charlie Frost can read other people’s minds.
  The book is broken down by days and is introduced by the editor, Marcus Hatch, who adds a humorous voice as he vouches for the veracity of the tale.
  “This is a true story. … I was there, and I saw some of it, and what I didn’t see I heard about, from someone who knows the whole story. Being as this is a true story, there’s no point looking for allegory and symbolism and that sort of thing. This isn’t some snooty book where people nobody likes do things nobody cares about for reasons nobody can figure out. That’s what they call literature. This here is journalism, and journalism deals with facts, not muddy things like theme and such.”
  The story starts off with the party on May 19, 2001.
  That date jump out at anyone? Know where we’re headed yet?
  Schwartz actually does the reader a favor by setting up the story so it’s obvious we are headed right into Sept. 11. It’s not a shock when you get there and the tone turns serious. If the reader is too oblivious to catch the date, Marcus Hatch spells it out for you.
  “A superhero story needs a supervillain, that’s what you’re thinking. Well, there aren’t any supervillains in this story. … The thing about real life is the bad guys are people, too, and by that I don’t mean anything touchy-feely about how they have feelings and they love their parents and they stop to pet little dogs on the street. Some people don’t have feelings and don’t love their parents and go out of their way to shoot little dogs on the street. But most of the bad guys aren’t so easy to spot. … You can see the dates we’re dealing with, and you know what’s going to happen eventually. Maybe there is one supervillain here, but he doesn’t know that our heroes — and I’m not even going to go into how exactly I justify calling them that, after everything that happened — he doesn’t even know that they exist.”
  As the plot develops, our heroes find that having superpowers isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Schwartz explores how the government, public and police would actually react if a superhero did exist, vigilantism being illegal and all.
  I’m not sure Schwartz needed to go down the Sept. 11 road, but it didn’t offend me. Some readers may find Marcus Hatch’s paranoia and conspiracy theories annoying. I found them funny. I particularly enjoyed his rants against the media.
  Anyone looking for something a little different should give this easy read a try. And fans of comic books especially should enjoy Schwartz’s take on what life would be like with superpowers.

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