BOOK REVIEW: VILLAINS NEVER DIE by Nick DeWolf

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. 

Well, this review is about two months too late (I’m so sorry, Nick; I keep doing this to you) but better late than never is usually a good motto to stand by.

Anyone who’s seen some of my past reviews knows that I’m a big fan of the reimagination of superheroes. HERO STATUS by Kristen Brand utterly charmed me, VERBOSITY’S VENGEANCE by Tony Noland was hysterical, and I’m no different from the rest of my generation in my love of The Incredibles. So when VILLAINS NEVER DIE came across my screen, I was excited. DeWolf has an excellent way with words, and a better hand at character than most, and I knew he’d do the topic justice.

I was not wrong.

There are three main viewpoint characters: a supervillain, a superhero, and the unsuspecting bystander, who all get wrapped up into the same plot, same history, same disasterpiece. The villain is lurking near retirement, the hero is fresh and new, the bystander is incredibly confused and wondering what all she’s gotten herself caught up in–and in time, wondering if there was ever a time she could have been out of it. And you follow along because each of them have their own viewpoint on what’s happening, and you really want to see as much of the full pictures as you possibly can–and these three can give that to you.

The nuance that avoids most superhero stories has found a comfortable home here. These aren’t cookie cutter characters and storybook villains. These are real people who made real choices, and they don’t have to tread a line between black and white because they have built an entire gray spectrum to exist in. And that–THAT–is what I love to see and don’t see enough of. I want to see the characters who go from “I want to punch him in his stupid face” to “what do you mean, there’s no more of his story; I have to know how he grows!” I want to hate and love people in between pages. I want it all, and DeWolf delivers.

The only thing keeping me from giving this a 5 star rating is, in fact, one of the things I liked about it–but I’m not sure it got pulled off as well as it could have. Bouncing between characters is a very difficult thing to do, particularly in a full immersion background–and characters who speak in first person. The combination of the two made it hard for me to keep my mind with each character, and keep track of who and where they were. Sure, as the book went on I learned their speech patterns–and most of them end up in the same room by the end. But there’s just that bit of hesitation in the back of my mind that doesn’t let me quite give this 5 stars. But it’s a solid 4.75.

The end, while both not what I wanted and the only logical way to go, is both complete and open, in a way that doesn’t leave the reader hanging, but has just enough there to build up to a sequel if the author so chose. And if he does, I’ll be first in line to read it.

Because there are some unfinished battles there, and I’d love to see them play out.

Rating: ****3/4 – Most Definitely Recommended