Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon review

    Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain was a great YA superhero novel. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but quite entertaining. The protagonists were adorable and included a character whose superpower was, literally, incredible cuteness. It was funny, entertaining, and made me happy to have read it.

    The sequel?

    Mostly, the same.

    Accent on mostly.

    Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon isn't as good as the original. It's got a lot of science-fiction world-building and out-of-context focus on a Steampunk Jovian colony Victorian humans which is pretty far removed from the original premise of superheroes vs. villains. It is good, though, and advances the characters even if it was in a way I wouldn't have.

    The premise is it's been months since the events of the previous novel and our antiheroes have been inactive. This was a bit disappointing as Ray and Penny kissed at the end. It's not unrealistic, though, since thirteen-year-olds are rarely able to sort through emotions in ways which don't explode horribly in their faces. Likewise, I imagine schoolwork and distractions keep them from any crazy plans to take over the world.

    Events open up a new opportunity for them, though. The Spider, the cordial archvillain who hopes to turn the trio into her allies, has a mission which will put the trio into space. Geeking out as a pair of science geeks invited into space would, they proceed to do grow a flying fish spaceship and head out to the stars. What follows is the discovery of lost mad science colonies from the Victorian Era and dealing with a pair of alien menaces which threaten to destroy the people thereof.

    The scenes in space were both good and bad in equal parts. I was a big fan of the X-men when they went into space to deal with the Brood and Shi'ar. This despite the fact many readers wondered why a comic about prejudice was suddenly a space opera.

    The good thing about taking the Inscrutable Machine (our protagonist's team name) into space is it's a fresh take on the characters and true to comics. Captain America can fight vampires one day, aliens the next, and street crime on the weekend. Watching Penny and Claire deal with things like 19th century fashion is quite entertaining. There's also a touching scene where Penny gets to explain to a Jewish man who fled the Nazis into space during the Thirties that, yes, the good guys won.

    The bad thing is it's a little too far removed from the original setting. It's also a much more serious storyline with direr consequences than the lighter and fluffier first book. People get shot at, nearly-die, and there's lots of terrible genetic horrors which almost eat or enslave our protagonists. The solution to the problems of the Jovian colonists left a sour taste in my mouth, too. Specifically, it left a new "hero" hating our protagonists' guts. I preferred to see our teenage protagonists triumphant and loved rather than failing. In short, I feel the series lost its sense of humor for the sequel and I hate that.

    The best part of the novel was when the Inscrutable Machine breaks into a laboratory owned by a much more powerful supervillain and trash it. They get to deal with people familiar with superheroes, a murderous antihero (who isn't as bad as she sounds), and play off against the setting. None of that gets to happen in space because no one has any familiarity with what superheroes and villains are.

    On the plus side, I loved the steampunk aesthetic of the Jovians. The Jules Verne and HG Wells-style technology combined with a Bioshock sort of setting, complete with clockwork robots, makes them a fun group to imagine. I actually wish we'd got to have more time with them and under less dire circumstances. Unfortunately, the actual Jovians prove to be less than likable with nasty attitudes and a tendency to backstab the protagonists.

    A shame.

    In conclusion, this was a fun but flawed book. I'm sticking with the series, though, and look forward to seeing what happens next. I just hope the future novels are a little more fun and a lot less angst.


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