Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Publisher: Tantor Audio (2015)
Length: 5 hours 34 mins
Series: Book 1 The First Superhero
Set in the smallish town of Eben, Indiana, Kane Andrews and his friends volunteer at the local high school in assisting with the refugees – fetching supplies, preparing large cafeteria-style meals, etc. Many large East Coast cities have been evacuated because the world’s first superhuman, Richter, runs amok, tearing down buildings and throwing cars around. But things are about to change for Kane and the small town of Eben.
This book was a mixed bag for me. It held to a pretty basic good versus chaotic evil + coming of age storyline. Kane will become the second superhuman and the only one capable of fighting Richter and ending his rampages. However, we have to go through the process with him and that was rather humdrum. Kane wants to keep his identity as a superhuman hush hush, which is smart of him, and yet his first appearance in public is at the high school without a costume of any kind. Granted, it was an emergency situation and there was no time to plan, but the author carries on as if no one had an inkling that Kane was the young man who saved Macy. So, that was a little hard to believe.
The entire story is told through Kane’s eyes, and he’s a teen just coming into adulthood. He needs time to hang out with his friends and drink beer and maybe go on a date. I was OK with all that, as a starting point. But Kane stays pretty simplistic throughout the tale and after a while, that felt rather strained, especially towards the end.
Then we have the ladies. The story opens up with Leopold wishing to interview old lady Mrs. Andrews in the year 2078 (I think I have that right) about young Kane and how he became the second super. She’s neither here nor there. Then back in the main timeline, we have Kane’s mom who is supportive but also turns into useless tears when crap starts flying. Then there’s Macy who faints! Argh! OK. I know humans faint. But can we please balance out the fainting love interest with some realist female characters? Or maybe a man who faints or needs a good therapist? We do get a hard-nosed female FBI Agent, but she has perhaps 10 lines in the book. Then there’s Macy’s sister (who has maybe 3 lines) and a mystery female towards the end of the book that we know next to nothing about by the end of the tale. So, yeah, we could have used some gender balance since this is set in modern days.
The first fight scene was pretty decent and poor Kane loses. That made sense and also meant that Kane had to use his brains more than his fists. The rest of the fight scenes were only OK because they felt rather repetitive. In between these fight scenes, we learn a little bit about Richter and what probably drove him a little mad. That was a good tidbit to have tossed into the story. Kane eventually gets a costume and the media dub him the Tempest. I tend to associate the word ‘tempest’ with water-based storms like hurricanes. But I don’t recall Kane doing any flashy waterworks in his fights with Richter. So the name didn’t feel like a good fit to me.
As a side note, the story refers to past nuclear testing that was done in Arizona. I did a quick Google search and then dug up an expert in radiation safety and between the two, couldn’t find any past nuclear testing in AZ. However, fall out from above ground testing in nearby Nevada did affect AZ. It’s a small incorrect point in the story but one that stood out to me, being a lifelong resident of the desert Southwest.
The ending was OK. We have a big glorious fight scene and then clean up. The final ending takes us back to where we started with Leopold conducting his interview. The author has definitely set things up for a sequel. There’s plenty of questions left about Kane and the mystery woman at the end of his section of the story. All told, this book was a bit meh for me.
Narration: Kirby Heyborne was a good fit for Kane. He sounds like a polite young man in his late teens. The narrator is able to be a bit more serious and sound a little gruff when needed for other characters. His female voices are believable.
What I Liked: Not all superhumans will start off as superheroes; Kane does volunteer work; the first fight scene was decent; some end-story questions set the reader up for a sequel.
What I Disliked: Why didn’t anyone recognize Kane from the high school event?; the love interest faints which is so cliched; the fight scenes became repetitive; Kane’s superhero name doesn’t quite fit.
What Others Think: