Wearing the Cape is one of my favorite Capepunk series. No, scratch that, it's my favorite Capepunk series period. What is Capepunk you may ask? They are prose-based superhero stories about the consequences for people in a world which various comic book tropes are true. The shorter version, they're stories about the little guy having to deal with people who can bench-press buses.
Small Town Heroes is the fourth book following the adventures of Hope Corrigan a.k.a the superheroine Astra and the fifth in the series overall. It has been a couple of years since the events of the original novel and she's now nineteen. Unfortunately, her problems have only grown as people refuse to let go of her relationship with the superhero Atlas.
Astra's friends have started suffering for her fame, too, as they've gone from being her circle of high school friends to 'Astra's posse.' This has both good and bad effects as they find themselves under a microscope but also aware this can be exploited to their benefit.
It does, however, mean they are a great deal more secretive than they used to be. When a pair of her friends come out as being in a lesbian relationship, Astra is floored. Not because of their sexuality but that they didn't tell her. I liked this because human drama is one of the ways the series distinguishes itself from other Capepunk novels.
Small Town Heroes follows Astra as she takes a break from all this to guard an American research facility located in an extra-dimensional pocket near Guantanamo Bay. It's an interesting reminder 9/11 didn't happen in the Wearing the Cape world as she's unaware the base exists until it's pointed out to her. Cuba has changed drastically in the post-Breakthrough world with a supervillain dictator named the Tyrant ruling it semi-benevolently.
Much of the book deals with Astra's relationship with her teenage friend Shelly. I'm not a big fan of the character so this wasn't my favorite part. Despite this, I very much enjoyed their interaction. Shelly is an important part of Astra's life and I liked how the author has finally found an appropriate role for the character after several false starts.
If I have a complaint about the book it's the fact not much happens during it. It's a fairly self-contained plot and doesn't really advance the overarching story all that much. We get some characterization for Astra but nothing which really tells us anything new. I hope the book's otherwise dramatic plots aren't slowing down for the purposes of franchising. I love Astra but want to see the books keep their big, dramatic moments.
In conclusion, a worthy entry into the series but not exactly its best either. It kind of leaps tall buildings in a single bound rather than flies.