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  1. #1

    Fun New YA Title: Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super-Villain

    Just finished this one, and really enjoyed it a lot. There is soooo much YA trash, and plenty of it involves super-heroes. What is different here is that 12 year old Penny and her two friends are believable characters, as is the world they inhabit.

    The book starts with Penny anxiously hoping for her powers to emerge, as her parents are "The Audit" whose super-hero power is purely mental, advanced planning and calculation, and "the Akk" her father, whose power, is genius/taking conventional science places others can't follow, building devices for super-heroes. Penny develops "mad-science" power, the ability to make devices she doesn't fully understand, and that don't obey the laws of conventional science. Penny decides to surprise her parents with control of her power -- they think she has experienced only the initial flash of her power, and that recurrence/control might take years. While Penny is working on secretly mastering her powers with the help of her friends, things go wrong and they get accidentally labelled as super-villains. Their exploits and plan to eventually demonstrate they are heroes form the heart of the plot.

    Nothing too original or surprising, but what is surprising is how well done and likable it is. Its definitely YA, but I enjoyed it a lot.

  2. #2
    Interesting. I might check this one out, unless it is targeted at younger readers only. I actually like superhero novels.

    This reminded me of the Renegade X books by Chelsea M. Campbell (two books so far in the series) that I enjoyed a lot. This is the plot description of the first one:

    Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she's been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father's too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he's not a hero in any way, or else he's stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.
    Damien's adventures are fun to read, and I really enjoyed his voice (it's narrated in first person). He's snarky, sarcastic and rebellious, but he's also loyal and has a good heart. And he's really funny.

    I also liked a lot the Wearing the Cape series, by Marion G. Harmon, although that one is more adult than YA, perhaps. The main character is an 18-year-old girl, though, so it can count as YA. Anyway, it's a great read too, and a good example of what a more "realistic" superhero universe could be like. It has a likable hero and a great villain, too.
    Last edited by farseer2; May 11th, 2014 at 07:40 PM.

  3. #3
    I've read those Farseer, you should give this one a try if you like those. Its written at the same level.

    The main characters in this one may be 12, but the text and believability wouldn't really change at all if they were 16. Indeed, it might even be more realistic. (I have a 12 year old girl, I know!)

    I dunno, this one isn't necessarily "better," I agree Renegade X was kind of funny/stylish, but this one felt more natural and less strained. The main character in Renegade X is awfully broody, and the main character from Wearing the Cape had that awful "pretty but never been kissed" thing going on. They were good books, but I definitely found parts a little strained.
    Last edited by ArtNJ; May 12th, 2014 at 07:52 AM.

  4. #4
    You have convinced me. I don't know when I'll get to it but it's in my "to read" list.

  5. #5
    Actually, the Super-Powereds by Drew Hayes series may be better than any of the three books we have been talking about. I recommended Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super-Villain because its fun, and the writing just feels smoother and more natural than the somewhat strained writing in most of these super-hero books. The Super-Powereds series is something else entirely - two 600+ page books with expert writing, creativity, and, most especially, dedicated and professionally rendered character development. Super-Powereds is the best super-hero fiction I've read since Wild Cards.

    Now, to be fair, for 1200+ total pages of books (in books 1 and 2), there really isn't a ton of action. These 2 books are 90% character development & grown, combined with a traditional coming of age, super-hero school type environment. The sole reason they work is because the writing is good, and the reader comes to care about the characters and their growth. Someone could easily have a different reaction, preferring something with more action, humor or wackiness. Also, since the setting is basically a super-hero college, I'm assuming that we are going to end up with 4 books, one for each year of college -- and right now, only the first two are done.

    For a humorous super-hero novel, Confessions of a D-List Super-Villain is still my top pick.

  6. #6
    OK, I finished reading Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super-Villain, and I didn't enjoy it too much. There were several problems for me:
    * The main character's power is being a "mad scientist", and a lot of attention and long descriptions are devoted to that. Mad science has a long tradition in superhero comics, but it's never been a favorite trope of mine, and as a novel it works (for me) even less. It's just too arbitrary for me: the character can do whatever she needs or the plot needs done. There are no limits or internal rules. (The beginning of the book was really dull because of those long and arbitrary "mad science" descriptions, I was strongly tempted to give up, but I kept reading and finally it got better and I finished the novel).
    * Which takes us to the power level of our "heroes". They are a group of three 13-year-old kids who just got their powers. However, they consistently outsmart and defeat everyone, including the most senior and powerful adult superheroes. Everything is easy for them, they win too easily and I never got a sense that there was a real challenge. They could do anything they wanted.
    * I never understood the main characters' motivation. They seem spoiled rich kids with nice families who commit crimes just for the kick of it causing important material damage and casualties too (we are never shown these casualties directly, but although they go out of their way to save the life of some of the victims it is unbelievable that there are no fatalities in some of the "supervillainous" stuff they get involved in). They never seem to reflect about the consequences of their actions, and those consequences never reach them. They mess with all kinds of superheroes and supervillains, showing very bad judgment, but the logical consequences never reach them either. I would have found their actions more believable if it had been just one character, but the three of them are exactly the same in terms of morality and bad judgment? We never get to know those characters very well, even after spending so much time inside their heads.
    * The blindness of Penny's parents is just unbelievable. What's going on is so blatant, and they are supposedly geniuses. Much worse, her mother is The Audit, a superhero whose power is reaching the correct conclusions from very scarce data. I mean, come on. Whenever there's a crisis Penny goes to her room, puts on a computer game video and runs away for hours without her parents suspecting anything... There's parental blindness, but this is ridiculous.

    On the plus side, the premise (young supervillainess whose parents are superheroes) has potential and is funny. The way the superheroes/supervillains society worked is whimsical. There is a lot of action (once we get over the dull beginning). Most readers seemed to enjoy it a lot, judging by the reviews at Goodreads. In spite of my gripes, I enjoyed it enough to finish it.

    However, in the same light-fun YA-style I liked the Renegade X series much more. And also, with more adult-style writing, the Wearing the Cape series.

    I will keep an eye out for Drew Hayes' Super-Powereds series.

  7. #7
    I hear you Farseer, we all have different tolerances for stuff. Overdone brooding maybe bothers me more, whereas your bothered more by the issues you identified.

    Anyway, just wanted to pop back in to suggest you check out Super-Powereds on Drew Hayes' website, since he has the books up in their entirety for free. So you know, you might want to read a couple of chapters and see if its your thing before taking the plunge.

    They aren't perfect either, but I did like them quite a bit.

    If you like funny though, my all time favorite is Adventures of a D-List Supervillain. I read that one maybe two years ago and didn't think of mentioning it the last time we "spoke".

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ArtNJ View Post
    I hear you Farseer, we all have different tolerances for stuff. Overdone brooding maybe bothers me more, whereas your bothered more by the issues you identified.
    Yes, absolutely. Plenty of people have enjoyed this book. I just didn't connect with it.


    Anyway, just wanted to pop back in to suggest you check out Super-Powereds on Drew Hayes' website, since he has the books up in their entirety for free. So you know, you might want to read a couple of chapters and see if its your thing before taking the plunge.
    Thanks for the tip. I will.


    If you like funny though, my all time favorite is Adventures of a D-List Supervillain. I read that one maybe two years ago and didn't think of mentioning it the last time we "spoke".
    I'm not really a big fan of comedy novels. If it has a good story/characters then it being funny can be a plus.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by farseer2 View Post

    I'm not really a big fan of comedy novels. If it has a good story/characters then it being funny can be a plus.
    Confessions of a D-List Supervillain is short and definitely a tad comic-hooky, but does have a real plot in addition to being funny. Cal "Mechani-Cal" Stringer was an engineer for Ultra-Weapon's company and contributed to several breakthroughs, but after a disagreement, a non-compete agreement forced poor Cal to the dark side, earning a living manufacturing weapons and robots for higher profile super-villains while working on his suit. The story beings with the plot of another super-villain having gone very, very wrong -- fortunately, Cal was wearing his suit at the time, and "the bugs" couldn't land on him and take him over. The first scene is Cal being chased by "The Olympians," the premier super-hero group (now possessed by the bugs), formerly 12 college kids that may or may not have met the greek gods on a cruise. When Cal captures "Aphrodite," he decides to try and cure her bug problem. He isn't a hero, but what else can he do? Along the way, there is a lot of humor, but it is integrated. For example, as he flies back to his back-up lair with the unconscious world-wide sex-symbol Aphrodite, D-list villain Cal thinks "If I survive this mess, this is definitely going in my memoirs, or at least in an email to a men's magazine." Not really laugh out loud funny, but since its integrated and it fits the story and Cal's personality, if it doesn't add any amusement you just move on to the rest of the story.

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