The Please Don't Tell My Parents series is a series I have declared to be the Supervillainy Saga's. This, despite the fact mine are R-rated superhero camp stories and they're well, PG superhero camp stories. See? Completely different! Despite this, I'm going to say I think they're probably the best superhero series I'm presently reading. Yes, even better than Wearing the Cape and more enjoyable than Brandon Sanderson's The Reckoners. Why? Because, really, these are some completely INSANE novels.
No, seriously, the chief appeal for this series is the stories are utterly out there. They involve utterly outlandish characters in impossible situations and yet it's all so innocent as well as fun. I've rarely been touched by superhero literature but I was actually moved by the resolution to Generic Girl's story arc in the previous novel. Still, I couldn't help but be a bit leery about the idea of a prequel which starred a number of minor characters from the main series.
So, what did I think? I absolutely loved I Did Not Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence. I was confused as hell for the first few chapters and had to re-read them but after that, the story really gelled and became probably my favorite of the series. I already liked the series a lot but I think this felt a bit more substantial, I suppose is a good word for it, and even had its own little message. I rank it right up there with the first novel, which remains my favorite.
The premise is recently retired superhero, Goodnight, finds two new friends in the eternally ten-year-old Grim Reaper-esque Psychopomp and a cyborg animal-human hybrid named Mish-Mosh. Deciding to form a goofy Charlies Angel-esque team, except with two of them being children while the other being the size of one. Unfortunately, the city of Los Angeles isn't as nice for superheroes and supervillainans as it will be during the Inscrutable Machine's era.
It seems, in this time, supervillains and superheroes have a much more antagonist relationship. It's also getting worse all the time with the psychopaths among both sides slowly driving the others to extremes. It's basically a Silver Age goofy sort of world which is gradually transforming into a Iron Age one. Goodnight, being a superhero in love with Bull (and destined to get with him), is appalled by this transformation. How she tries to stop it and succeeds (since we know she does from the other books) is the subject of the story. In the process, we also get a bunch of origin stories for characters from the Please Don't Tell My Parents series.
The characters play off of one another extremely well. I loved Goodnight's attempts to treat superheroism as a silly, goofy pastime when she's partnered with a mass-murdering demigod and a tortured murder-cyborg. Goodnight's infectious cheeriness and utterly contradictory backstory that reminds me of too many X-men backstory retcons. The origin stories in the book are surprisingly affecting with crime boss Spider and Mourning Dove's backstories being really good.
I like several of the characters introduced in the story like Palooka Joe, Bismuth, Delicious, and Cyber-Angel. Each of them is a parody on a popular archetype or element from superhero comics like Clark Kenting, theme villains, and sexy superhero costumes. I personally would easily read a series starring these characters and Goodnight, perhaps even more than the Inscrutable Machine. The fact the characters can shift from zany comedy to surprisingly effective drama is a testament to the author's skill.
Indeed, this book has a lot of drama for something dealing with a three-foot tall jaguar woman goddess from a super-science facility built centuries ago. The story of Mourning Dove is tragic from the beginning to end and the Bad Doctor is a surprisingly scary villain for the environment. I also felt the cycle of revenge with Palooka Joe and Bismuth was well handled as it degenerated from dislike to murderous hatred.
In conclusion, this is a really-really good book. The characters are good, the interactions are fun, the world-building is solid, and I enjoyed the entire story throughout. The book is delightfully bizarre and that's something which I approve of in all my superhero books. Aside from feeling a bit lost at the beginning, I can't think of anything I disliked about this book and I heartily recommend it to fans of superhero literature.