Bess’ Book Recs: All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault by James Alan Gardner

I love the world this series is building. There is “Light” and “Dark,” but also people made into superheroes by the light can go all supervillain.
Also, when you get whammied you get to pick your powers and for a little while the only limit is your imagination. The Sparks, as they’re called, are ruled entirely by the power of narrative.
Yeah, I can get behind that.

Now I have to admit, it’s not actually this book that I read recently but it’s sequel, They Promised Me The Gun Wasn’t Loaded. It absolutely keeps up the amazing momentum of the first one, but with a different POV character. The first book was from K’s perspective, the second one is from Jools’.
Worldbuilding aside, the other thing I love about these books is how well the characters are written. (In fact, my biggest quibble with the first book is that how K is presented in the novel is not reflected in the cover material, so I can only assume there was a publisher/author divide.) Considering how realistic and empathetic the characters, across all gender and ethnic spreads, felt to me, I was genuinely surprised to discover that the author is in his sixties. I’m so used to “writing women and NB people as people” being the providence of young women and NB folks, that it’s a little jarring to realize that there’s someone out there besides Terry Pratchett who can do it too.
In the first book, K and zir roommates become Sparks thanks to a lab explosion. They spend the story coming to terms with their new powers (and defining them) as well as fighting The Bad Guys.
These are such satisfying books, and fit in with my latest reading trend of superhero novels. Highly recommend, and I can’t wait for the next one!

Are you on a particular sub-genre kick? Do you also think James Alan Gardner is really cool? Who is your favorite of this new superhero group? Let me know!

P.S. I’ve started working on the next manuscript. Here we go!

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