I am not lost…

February 27, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: HERO STATUS by Kristen Brand

I was provided a copy of this novel by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Having dabbled in superhero/villain fiction myself, I’m always willing to take a look at new superhero fiction. It was one of the things that drew me to Tony Noland’s VERBOSITY’S VENGEANCE. So when Kristen Brand approached me to review HERO STATUS, I was definitely intrigued by the premise.

Dave del Toro is a retired superhero married to his old nemesis, Valentina Belmonte. They’ve stepped away from the super-life, settled down in sunny Miami, and they’ve done their best to live a normal life for their daughter. But when one of Dave’s superhero comrades turns up dead with Valentina’s old calling card on him, their lives get tossed up in the air. Now Dave has to choose: stick to his hero morals, or save his wife and bend the laws he’s fought to uphold.

Yessssssss.

I’ve been staring at my TBR for a while now, trying to figure out what books I wanted to read in what order. But I was headed out for a day over the weekend and grabbed my Kindle, which fairly well determined that I was going to read HERO STATUS, since it was the next book on there that I needed to read. I curled up with the book and waited for brunch to come.

…and had trouble putting it down when I had to leave.

I have difficulty with the line between a 4 and a 5 star review. There are several books I’ve given one number to and then changed my mind later. This is one of them. Initially, I’d given it 4 stars because I hadn’t felt it had blown me away sufficiently to warrant the 5 star rating. I try my best to reserve the 5 star rating for books I truly think are the best of the best.

And then I remembered I’d done the exact same thing with VERBOSITY.

What constitutes as a book that “blows me away” is a little fuzzy in my mind. It needs to be a book that sticks with me, that makes me wish there was more to it, that makes me think about how the world works long after the book is over. It’s something that makes me laugh, that makes me think, makes me feel. And as I thought about it, that’s exactly what HERO STATUS did. I loved Dave and Val. They’re an amazing couple, true to their super-roots, with genuine conflict and emotion. Elisa is a wonderful addition to the group as their daughter, and the reflection of the superpowers in her is fascinating. Dr. Sweet is a brilliant villain against the two of them, and the Idols are a perfect foil to all of it.

Conflict is something I have struggled with in my own writing, but the kind of conflict I love the most–both to read and to write–is conflict within the self, and that’s the vast majority of Dave’s issues. Yes, he’s fighting against the conflict of his wife being framed for murder, but what that requires him to do…that’s all him. That’s hero versus villain all in one person. Val, on the other hand, is unapologetically who she is, and that hasn’t changed from when she was a super-villain.

Though very different books, this felt much like a spiritual sibling to VERBOSITY’S VENGEANCE–perhaps this is the version of the story with a layman’s vocabulary. 😉 It is a wonderful look at a world of superheroes, and a brilliant look at the morality of one’s actions and what we should do in comparison to what we sometimes feel we must do. Absolutely a book to pick up, and I’m definitely going to be getting the sequel as soon as I rub a few pennies together. (And to top it all off, it’s another book with a sense of humor that appeals to my manuscript’s main character. I think Alistair, Vic, and Dave should all go get a drink together. Just sayin’.)

Rating: ***** – Highest Recommendation

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