And so ends the saga of Penny Akk a.k.a Bad Penny. I'm saddened by this event because I have been a huge fan of this YA series since it began with PLEASE DON'T TELL MY PARENTS I'M A SUPERVILLAIN. The fact the series is not going to be continuing with the Inscrutable Machine but spin offs like I DID NOT GIVE THAT SPIDER SUPERHUMAN INTELLIGENCE is disappointing despite how much I enjoyed it.
The premise for this book is Penny Akk has had her body stolen by a parasitic version of her powers (which is more complicated than it sounds). She has been put in a robot body and is now being hunted by the majority of superheroes in the city. Penny must gather up a bunch of allies, including a Chucky Cheese-esque animatronic animal called Gerty Goat then take the fight to her worst enemy: herself!
As a finale to the series, I think the book is a bit wanting but a decent individual adventure. Ray Viles and E-Claire are absent for too much of the book with their dynamic sorely missed. I also regretted we didn't find out about Penny's parents reaction to the discovery of her supervillain career--it happened off screen. Instead, we got a lot of encounters with new characters as well as a lesson on tolerance from superhumans to robots (who are treated as subhuman).
Honestly, I was also a bit disappointed by the handling of Parasite Penny. I was really looking forward to seeing our heroine deal with a genuinely evil opponent for the first time. I feel like it was a missed opportunity to deal with a Penny who didn't have the same qualities as Penny but was able to fake it. Instead, the book seems to retcon the origins of the Parasite and her attitude from the previous book's cliffhanger ending.
Much of the book deals with the issues of prejudices faced by artificial people in Los Angeles with robots treated as disposable individuals by superheroes as well as villains both. It's surprising since we've met cyborgs, people made out of candy, and other enormous spiders that get all the rights of regular people. I was pleased Penny's parents also tried to handle the issue of "Robot Penny" in a well-meaning but stupid way as befitting how they normally handle things.
The Inscrutable Machine are some of the best characters in superhero prose and someone I have really come to bond with over all the books we've read with them. I'm a huge fan of Penny, Claire, and Ray. I love all the weirdos they've befriended and appreciate the encounter we had with Claudia a.k.a. Generic Girl. She remains my favorite of the author's creations. It's a quirky and fun world that contrasts strongly against all the ones headed by supervillains or ruthless antiheroes. I also love Gerty Goat and how ridiculous she is as a 7ft tall animatronic pizzeria entertainer.
So special thanks to Richard Roberts for making such an entertaining book series. I certainly hope we'll get more of his quirky oddball superheroes in Los Angeles.