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( Read E-pub ) Í Soon I Will Be Invincible ⚣ Doctor Impossible Evil Genius, Diabolical Scientist, Wannabe World Dominator Languishes In A Federal Detention Facility He S Lost His Freedom, His Girlfriend, And His Hidden Island Fortress Over The Years He S Tried To Take Over The World In Every Way Imaginable Doomsday Devices Of All Varieties Nuclear, Thermonuclear, Nanotechnological And Mass Mind Control He S Traveled Backwards In Time To Change History, Forward In Time To Escape It He S Commanded Robot Armies, Insect Armies, And Dinosaur Armies Fungus Army Army Of Fish Of Rodents Alien Invasions All Failures But Not This Time This Time It S Going To Be Different Fatale Is A Rookie Superhero On Her First Day With The Champions, The World S Most Famous Superteam She S A Patchwork Woman Of Skin And Chrome, A Gleaming Technological Marvel Built To Be The Next Generation Of Warfare Filling The Void Left By A Slain Former Member, Fatale Joins A Team Struggling With A Damaged Past, Trying To Come Together In The Face Of Unthinkable Evil Soon I Will Be Invincible Is A Thrilling First Novel A Fantastical Adventure That Gives New Meaning To The Notions Of Power, Glory, Responsibility, And Of Course Good And Evil Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com This morning on planet Earth, there are 1,686 enhanced, gifted, or otherwise superpowered persons 678 use their powers to fight crime, while 441 use their powers to commit them 44 are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or eighteen to be exact Including me You really have to wonder why we all end up in jail Well, when a novel starts like this, how in a million years could I possibly pass it up And indeed, just about everything at first about Bay area author Austin Grossman s debut novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible, seemingly screams out I am for you to the random overeducated comics loving geek who comes across it the Chip Kidd cover, Grossman s nerdy credentials as a videogame consultant and PhD candidate in Victorian literature, Invincible s storyline concerning weary postmodern superheroes But there s a big problem regarding reviewing this novel, in that there are two very different interpretations one can have as to what Grossman s point is, and that my feelings regarding the book change profoundly depending on which interpretation you adopt of whether this is a light deconstructionist comedy about freaks in tights and what makes them do what they do or maybe if this is instead an unironic gritty Dark Age drama about superheroism itself.What to do, what to do So I m trying something unusual today I m writing two mini reviews of Invincible instead, tackling my thoughts when it comes to each of these interpretations, since it s almost impossible to know which one Grossman meant for us to have unless directly asking him If you end up reading the novel yourself, I ll be interested to see which of the two takes you adopt, and encourage you to leave a comment at the end sharing your own thoughts on the matter.A Soon I Will Be Invincible as deconstructionist superhero comedy For those who don t know, there s a rising subgenre of superhero stories out there now for those who enjoy such things, which is the ironic self aware superhero story where the heroes and villains in question understand just how ridiculous their entire situation is, and end up winking at the audience the entire time they re performing their heroic or villainous stunts Think of the most well known example of the subgenre, the 1999 Ben Stiller comedy Mystery Men how the superheroes in that movie live and die by their corporate sponsorships and celebrity endorsements, how most of the superheroes in question turn out to be nerdy losers once the masks come off.And indeed, there s a lot of the same kind of humor going on in Invincible, and it s undeniable that Grossman has a natural talent for these kinds of observational jokes, such as when the main villain a Lex Luthor stand in starts ranting about the flying abilities of his superhero nemesis clearly a blonde Superman He didn t even have the decency to work for it, to flap a pair of wings or at least glow a little He seemed to do it purely out of a sense of entitlement But there s a weakness that comes with this part of the book as well, or should I say two symbiotic weaknesses that a lot of the novelty concerning this kind of humor has worn off by now, ten years after it first started becoming popular, and that Grossman ends up directly ripping off the concepts and jokes of a whole lot of other projects that have come before his, projects that are frankly better and funnier than his.Perhaps he I bought this book based on a strong review, and was quite disappointed Any reviewer who praises this book s imagination clearly hasn t read a comic book within the last 5 10 years The settings, characters, and powers all seem to have been lifted wholesale out of the most dire quick cash in books of the 90s comics boom.I will grant that there is some amusement to be found in Dr Impossible s story His wry, matter of fact viewpoint is often entertaining, and the telling of a comic book tale from the villain s side is at least a bit unusual, if not unheard of see Astro City The Tarnished Angel, for one particularly fine example Unfortunately, Dr Impossible s side of things only occupies half the book The rest of it is told from Fatale s perspective, and she s an absolute bore A cyborg with a lost past, she doesn t seem to be terribly passionate about anything The most she ever manages is some uninspired teenage esque angst that her character seems much too old for.In fact, the Dr Impossible Fatale contrast is indicative of a larger problem with the book Grossman has some fun poking into the psychologies and histories of his villains, people with frightening powers living with the perpetual cognitive dissonance that exists between their world conquering ambitions and inevitable humiliating defeats He has no such insight, however, into the minds of his heroes None of them spend any time pondering why they chose to put on tights and fight crime Dr Impossible wonders why he didn t choose to become a hero instead, but none of the heroes ever ponder why they didn t choose to just go rob a bank and retire to a tropical island None of them appear to get any particular enjoyment from fighting crime, or derive any pleasure from helping others, so why do they do it This book has no answers, so it does its best to dodge the question Worse, Grossman attempts to substitute angst and bickering amongst his heroes in place of psychological depth The New Champions, the super team that Fatale joins, bicker and sulk like a car full of high school students reluctantly dragged on a field trip, rarely displaying a single likable trait between the seven of them.Worse still, this book reads like a first draft than a published work The writing is sloppy and inconsistent, and the whole thing seems to have been untouched by an editor Descriptions are few and far between it reads like a comic book script than a novel, still waiting for an imaginative artist to draw in the undefined settings, faces, and costumes Characters repeat observations several time throughout the book, each time as if they re new The book is riddled with inconsistencies and dangling plot threads Dr Impossible sometimes talks as if he loathes magic and does his best to avoid it, and sometimes comfortably mentions incorporating it into past and future plans Fatale observes that a hammer weighs a couple hundred pounds, then, several paragraphs later, picks it up and finds it surprisingly heavy Conflicts are set up, but never pay off Other conflicts seem to appear out of nowhere A scene in which Fatale accuses a mystical teammate of not being a real fairy comes entirely out of left field one scene later, the conflict is completely forgotten, and is never mentioned again.Character voices are also wildly inconsistent Everyone sounds the same in conversation, and no one sounds particularly interesting Dr Impossible, an evil genius, comes the closest to having a unique voice, but even he bounces unpredictably between occasionally inspired bits and inexplicably juvenile lines such as, Whatever Just don t think you can stop me Most dismayingly, the two narrators sound remarkably similar for most of the book, with the only distinct difference being that Fatale s utterly flat sections lack the occasional moments of inspiration that sparingly pepper Dr Impossible s narrative.This book is an adult take on superheroes only when compared to the simplistic comics of the 30s 50s The story and dialog ibook don t hold a candle to the clever and insightful works of such modern day comics writers as Kurt Busiek, Brian Michael Bendis, and Neil Gaiman The novel format tries to sell this as a adult and literary take on comic books, but it s ultimately just a pale and surprisingly shallow imitation of the real thing. The temperature went on rising Spiderweb cracks formed on the glass of the containment chamber an instant before the explosion The pain was like burning or drowning, and it went on and on, unbearable I wanted to faint, to leave my body When you can t bear something but it goes on anyway, the person who survives isn t you any you ve changed and become someone else, a new person, the one who did bear it all The formula saturated my body, and I changed.This is one my all time favorite books.Trapped in prison after his 12th attempt to take over the world, evil genius and super villain Dr Impossible is wondering if he ll ever escape Can he once again create a brilliant and amazing plan to make the Earth s populace bow down before him I m the smartest man in the world Once I wore a cape in public, and fought battles against men who could fly, who had metal skin, who could kill you with their eyes I fought CoreFire to a standstill, and the Super Squadron, and the Champions Now I have to shuffle through a cafeteria line with men who tried to pass bad checks Now I have to wonder if there will be chocolate milk in the dispenser And whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life.This takes place in an exciting world of superheroes, a world that might exist in a comic book People routinely obtain superpowers from alien technology, fairy or god intervention, chemical accidents, and genetic experimentation.This book is told from two alternating points of view that of Doctor Impossible and that of budding new superhero Fatale, a cyborg who used to work for the NSA fighting drug lords before she got invited to join the New Champions.The book itself is physically beautiful the cover and the inside Each chapter is marked with either a little ray gun Impossible s chapters or a little cyborg eye Fatale s chapters The book is also divided into three parts, each marked with a full page black and white superhero type photograph I loved this.The prose and writing is beautiful and truthful This book is very powerful, it hits you full on and never relents If you re different you always know it, and you can t fix it even if you want to What do you do when you find out your heart is the wrong kind You take what you re given, and be the hero you can be Hero to your own cold, inverted heart.Grossman is also smart and weaves an amazingly intricate story here I ve read this book three times and even upon the third reading I was discovering and picking up on new things that eluded me the first two times.This is NOT sci fi, it s fantasy, so don t expect any hard science here It s all death rays, and zeta beams, and alternate dimensions and stuff.I can t believe the psychology and humanity that Grossman manages to fit into this book He coaxes out the intricacies of why people choose to do good or evil Doctor Impossible is not just a one dimensional villain, and his choice to embrace darkness is the result of a lot of different factors that sounded very familiar and true to me We are in Impossible s head and able to know his thoughts and his past and in knowing him so intimately we become aligned and sympathetic to him even so since things never seem to go his way.I won t talk to much about what happens in the book, because I don t want to give anything away half the fun is piecing it all together Grossman didn t skimp on the intricacies and delicacies of plotting You ll be going Ah ha when different pieces to the puzzle emerge and you put something together that wasn t clear before It s really masterful.Another thing that I think Grossman does insanely well is the balance he makes between the glossy candy part of the comic book world and the gritty, grim underside.Fatale is experiencing the high class, expensive, flashy world of the superheroes Being this close to so much power is a vertiginous sensation The heroes pop out at you, impossibly vivid, colorful as playing cards but all from different decks, a jumble of incompatible suits and denominations dealt out for an Alice in Wonderland game A man with the head of a tiger sits next to a woman made of glass The woman to my right has wings This is where I want to be the players.She and the other superheroes move through a world that adores, idolizes, and complies with them Damsel and I pass the first perimeter she flashes some identification at the policemen on the barricades, who stare at our costumes as if we were brightly colored poisonous fish.But beneath all that glamour lies ugly truths, open wounds, and anguished pasts All the superheroes seemingly perfect, God touched lives have some open and sometimes festering wounds underneath.The villains are just as complex and a lot of the book is spent in dumpsters, motel rooms, and sewers This is the modern real world but a world where some people can fly and see through walls, or generate force fields or summon lightning.I love the juxtaposition of grimy and glossy that Grossman does so perfectly here He hits me again, and this time I almost feel it It s been a long time since I felt much of anything..What else Grossman has a great vocabulary I love learning new words and he did not disappoint I mean, he s no Donna Tartt the book is pretty accessible, but he slips some gems in there and I loved it.The chapter titles are so much fun Foiled Again and Enemy of my Enemy and Maybe We Are Not So Different, You and I are just a few examples.If you like comic books, this is the book for you.If you don t read comic books I m with you I am not a comic book reader But I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book and that means that you might, too You don t need to be a comic book fanatic to understand or enjoy this novel I have a therapist here in prison , Steve, a sad Rogerian I m taken to see twice a week in a disused classroom Do you feel angry What did you REALLY want to steal The things I could tell him secrets of the universe But he wants to know about my childhood I try to relax and remind myself of my situation if I kill him, they ll just send another.MEDIA THAT RELATES TO THIS NOVEL MOVIES MegamindHancockDespicable Me 1 and 2Dr Horrible s Singalong BlogMystery MenSky HighKick Ass 1 and 2My Super Ex GirlfriendSpecial 2006 WatchmenBig Hero 6Unbreakable Split GlassAny traditional Marvel or DC film I won t list them.BOOKS Attack of the MutantAny superhero comic book, I won t list them.But I want to add in here that this book has a serious, adult tone to it It is not a joke although it is frequently laugh out loud funny But instead of mocking or poking fun at superhero supervillain clich s, Grossman is playing it pretty straight He takes this opportunity and backdrop to really explore human feelings and psychology It s fun, it s thought provoking, and it s emotional there s a deep vein of sadness and despair that counteracts the silliness and wit that Grossman glosses this with I loved every minute of it and can t recommend it highly enough Why is it always like this I d forgotten about this stuff Let myself get complacent Images of Peterson get confused with the present day In another room with a tiled floor, they stand around jeering while I face the urinal I leave, face blank, in a trance of shame Somewhere in that darkness, I wedded myself eternally to science and genius and anger How had I forgotten that Not as dark as something like Watchmen, but not as light as traditional comic book fare, I think this book achieved the perfect balance in a way I haven t seen before All my life, I d been waiting for something to happen to me, and now, before I was ready for it, it was I saw the misadjusted dials and whirling gauges and the bubbling green fluid and electricity arcing around, and a story laid out for me, my sorry self alchemically transmuted into power and robots and fortresses and orbital platforms and costumes and alien kings I was going to declare war on the world, and I was going to lose.If only it were all so simple If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Should I be embarrassed about giving Soon I Will be Invincible four stars Should I even admit that I bought it because I loved the title and the cover This a silly piece of entertaining fluff It s dessert after a really healthy dinner It doesn t have any hidden meanings, heavy symbolism or deep thoughts It s just really, really entertaining I laughed a few times and had a big grin on my face when I put it down Even better, I can pass this book to my son without any worries about inappropriate material It s very funny and very refreshing.