Fiction includes “A Superhero Anthology” and works by Carey and Harrison | Xpress Reviews

Week ending May 12, 2017

starred review starBehind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology. Meerkat. May 2017. 280p. ed. by Tricia Reeks & Kyle Richardson. ISBN 9780996626262. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780996626279. FANTASY
What happens when a superhero gets a normal human pregnant? How many mechanical parts does it take to consider a cyborg “nonhuman”? Do aging superheroes get dementia? Issues of daily life such as parenting and relationships are not always presented in superhero media, but the editors of this collection try to provide answers for some of these questions and show a more “human” side of superhumans. The stories they have gathered from such award-winning authors as Cat Rambo (“Ms. Liberty Gets a Hair Cut”), Lavie Tidhar (“Heroes”), Kelly Link (“Origin Story”), and Sarah Pinsker (“The Smoke Means It’s Working”) take the reader where most superhero stories have yet to go—to the sometimes boring, more pedestrian side of hero-ing. These tales include unexpected romances, unintended pregnancies, growing old, and overcoming such mundane obstacles as going to the grocery store.
Verdict Fans of superhero fiction will find that these imaginative stories, with their original perspectives, make for a thoroughly worthwhile compilation.—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL

Carey, M.R. The Boy on the Bridge. Orbit: Hachette. May 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780316300339. $26; ISBN 9780316508186. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316300315. F
Dr. Khan, Colonial Carlisle, Dr. Fournier, Lieutenant McQueen, Stephen Greaves, and the rest of the crew of the Rosalind Franklin patrol the Scottish Highlands on their land rover. Their goal is to look for sample “hungries” and research a possible cure to a plague that turns humans into shells. When Stephen disobeys orders to go off on his own, he witnesses children with abilities who are definitely not human, but they are also not hungries. An intelligent, overlooked, socially awkward teen, Stephen, fearing retribution, is not entirely honest about what he saw. When he disappears again, tragedy strikes both the Rosalind Franklin crew and the children. The mission is jeopardized, and for Stephen Greaves, the stakes are higher than ever.
Verdict This action-packed sequel to The Girl with All the Gifts is a zombie thriller with a sympathetic cast of characters and multiple narrators. Fans of Carey and readers of Ben H. Winters or Steven Barnes will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 11/27/17.]—Michelle Gilbert Doshi, Fox Lake Dist. Lib., IL

Harrison, Colin. You Belong to Me. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jun. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780374299477. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781429944625. F
Jennifer, blond and beautiful, has made a life for herself in New York City. Being married to a rich man and hobnobbing with the wealthy are a far cry from her humble country upbringing. When a past love suddenly appears, he threatens to overturn her nicely ordered existence. When Jennifer turns for help to her neighbor Paul Reeves, an immigration lawyer and avid map collector, he is pulled into a web of deceit and secrets. Harrison’s (Risk; The Finder) eagerly awaited new thriller starts out strong but, unfortunately, leaves readers flat. Jennifer’s story is unoriginal, and her husband, Ahmed, is a stereotype of the affluent Middle Easterner. The subplot of Paul’s hang-on girlfriend trying to trap him by getting pregnant is insulting to women. The pace is rather slow, and none of the characters, except Paul, are likable or stand out. Harrison would have been more successful if he focused on Paul, possibly starting a series with him as the main character.
Verdict A lackluster thriller that is forgotten as soon as it is finished. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/17.]—Marianne Fitzgerald, Severna Park H.S., MD

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