Blurb Book Review: The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy (spoilers ahead)

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Where did this image come from? Goodreads.com of course!

I’m not sure what I think of this book.

The cover is fantastic. Little sparkles dot the blackness and the extended fingerprint pattern is shiny. In the upper left corner is a pale rectangle with “A Comet Cycle Novel” inside. So this is the first book of the series. I liked the way the coloured pattern merges with the title on a backdrop of space. It’s accurate to the book in that this ninth metal, or omnimetal, merges with some humans.

The book itself was easy to hold, small enough for me to use only one hand. The binding wasn’t too tight. But I’m stalling.

I liked the author’s ability to describe the environment and the characters. Rich enough that I felt immersed throughout. The story was interesting enough: a meteor shower pummels Earth and leaves this ninth noble metal in its wake. The metal absorbs energy through kinetic force and is highly sought after. Two corporations – one that mined iron in the area and one that is trying to move into the area – fight over the land and the rights to mine this omnimetal.

That’s just the backdrop story though. This novel is more about the birth of superhumans. A boy and a man both are infused with this metal and have the ability to store up energy from destructive forces like gunshots and grenades and then propel that energy outward.

A third story exists as well. Some people are smoking and snorting the ground up metal. These addicts are called ‘metal-eaters’. Their eyes glow with the metal, they lose their hair, and they become focused on worshipping the metal. Near the end, the metal-eaters that lived on a kind of commune vanish through a gate of sorts. A gate that an addict created for the sole purpose of entering. The reader is not told where these people go.

So it’s a book with these three stories, all told fairly well. But I had to focus my attention to get through it. I was easily interrupted and didn’t mind putting the book down. This was in part because the first two thirds of the book felt like an introduction and there were enough characters that I got confused about what was going on. I suspect that if I’d read with more vigor I wouldn’t have been as confused.

I do have a couple of nitpicks. One character, Stacie, always ate sugar. She’s a peacekeeper/police officer and would offer Starburst candies to everyone. I could not, at any point, believe this to be true. I felt like the reason for her sugar addiction/intake would be explained but it wasn’t, not really. Except to say that she believed her offerings to be disarming or something. Honestly, I found it annoying. Like yes, fine, okay, sure, she’s offering candy again. And not just any candy, but Starburst. If this was a movie then I’d be certain that Starburst paid for product placement.

One line slipped past the editors but stood out to me. On page 214 a character is making a fishing fly. In between dialogue the author wrote, “With his thumb he tested the prick of the fly’s barb with his thumb.”. This author has written several novels, all of which were likely edited. How was this missed?

I’m hoping the next book in the series is a bit more engaging and holds my attention better than this one. I still recommend it, but only in passing.

Blurb Book Review: We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen (spoilers ahead)

We Could Be Heroes
If you guessed this image came from Goodreads.com, you’d be right.

How did I read another book inside of a week? This honestly boggled me a bit until I realized the book is a fast and easy read. This isn’t a bad thing, but surprising nonetheless.

So, here we have another superhero book. This one features two people with abilities, neither of them don’t remember anything before waking up in an apartment. They each have a couple of clues, a signed lease for one year’s paid stay at the apartment, and a note. The note indicates they have abilities.

One character, Jamie, uses his mind wiping ability to rob banks. He can rifle through anyone’s memory and remove specific bits. He robs banks because he wants to get away to a warm island somewhere and discovers banks are insured. He figures this crime isn’t hurting anyone and it helps him amass some cash. He’s defined as the villain upon introduction.

The other character, Zoe, can hover/fly, run super fast, has super strength, and can see thermal imagery. She uses her speed to deliver food and occasionally fight crime, if it suits her to do so. She’s labelled as a hero when we’re introduced.

They meet in a memory loss support group where Jamie immediately dives into Zoe’s mind and finds out she’s the one that was chasing him after his last robbery. They become tentative friends, yes, even after he sort of violated her by peeking through her mind, and try to help each other out in figuring out their pasts.

Of course this leads to them discovering a nefarious organization that’s gifting people with abilities. Of course they try to break in and get more information. Of course they’re caught. Of course they try again. Of course they work together to become heroes/saviors.

This plot makes the story easy to read, and the formatting kept my interest. The chapters alternate between each character’s POV, keeping the perspective fresh and interesting. The book did feel messy though, maybe from about two thirds on, as if the author didn’t really know how to explain events. This is reflected in the characters outright saying they had no plan and couldn’t explain something. This isn’t bad, but it felt a bit flippant.

Overall, it’s a light read. If you like superhero stories, this one makes a nice snack for your mind.