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Ever the Hero
Darby Harn. Fair Play, $14.99 trade paper (330p) ISBN 978-1-69699-597-9
Harn’s entertaining debut uses super powers as a metaphor to delve into class politics in an alternate America. In 1968, a spaceship arrived on Earth, scattering radioactive debris that caused thousands to die from cancer, but gave others special abilities, creating a hierarchy between the Empowered and the powerless. In the present, powerless Kitsie Baldwin makes a living by illegally scavenging off of the remains of the spaceship. After discovering a piece of alien technology thought to be lost forever, Kitsie is catapulted into the world of the Empowered and becomes romantically involved with one of its most influential figures: Valene Blackwood. Kitsie goes on to discover the truth of what happened in 1968, uncovering decades of lies perpetuated by the corrupt elite. Harn expertly uses his intricately constructed world to criticize capitalism, but the novel is not nearly as successful in its exploration of identity politics. Kitsie is a queer woman of color, but her characterization often rings hollow, falling victim to heteronormative romantic clichés (“I feel an insatiable hunger to be closer, to be inside her, to know her as a man might know her”). Still, the accomplished plotting will hold readers’ attention. Despite some flaws, this captivating series launch will appeal to fans of superhero fiction. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 11/13/2020

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