Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?

I resolved, some time ago, to try to include the title of the book I am reviewing into the title of this blog. I decided this mainly because I find it too hard to search for an old review without it.  If I can't find an old review, how can you find one? I like to make the title an interesting twist, if possible; a grab your nose and pull you in title. Today's book, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa, needed no treatment.  The title alone is a showstopper, an in your face question mark, a what was that all about attraction. Great Capes? Are we talking about places on the earth and some environmental disaster? And what is this Heropa? It sounds like one of the moons of Jupiter. Is this some science fiction about the environmental damage to some other planet? (Awww... the way my mind jumps!) So I found the title a bit tantalizing.  What is this book by Andrez Bergen?

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa
By Andrez Bergen
Published by Perfect Edge
ISBN - 10: 1782792352X
ISBN - 13: 978-1782792352
Length: 473 pages

About the Book:
     Jack, fifteen, lives in a ruined Melbourne, alone after his parents are disappeared by the state for sedition. On one of his forages out into the bowels of the city, someone hands him a flyer giving him an address. He follows the trail from one place to another where at each spot he must answer a question to get the next address. Finally he lands at the last stop only to be turned away until he accidentally says the password.
     Jack's next stop finds him on the streets of a clean city with a mismash of architectural styled  buildings unlike anything he had seen before. Here, he discovers he is Southern Cross, a superhero, also known as a Cape, and he is part of a group of Superheroes know as The Equalizers.  The city is populated by people the Capes call Blandos (because they are so bland) and other Capes who belong to The League of Unmitigated Rotters.
     There are rules to this new place - no cussing (though some words are okay), no drinking, no smoking, and no killing (other than Blandos), except someone is killing. And that is the mystery of the place.  Who is killing the Capes, why are they killing the Capes, and how are they killing the Capes?
      Jack, together with Equalizers Brick and Pretty Amazonia, sets out to find out what is really happening in this fair city. Along the way he picks up a petty reporter, a sharp detective, and a girlfriend. It is the girlfriend that has Jack sidetracked from his task of finding the killer or killers.

My Take:
  This book is a huge tribute to comic books, with blatant, not so blatant, and obscure references to the comic book heroes of the last century. I read these stories back in the day, my favorite being Spiderman and Daredevil, though I was familiar with others.  Most of the references in this work went over my head but it never, ever distracted from the story or the humor and there is plenty of both. Quite the opposite, in fact. And I enjoyed all the references I picked up on and learned a lot from others.
     I was taken back when the jump from Melbourne to Heropa took place but soon sussed this is a story much like Tron or The Thirteenth Floor though with much more humor. As with all such stories, you die in Heropa, you die. The concept that everything is extremely real -  food tastes, odors smell, pain hurts, and love is a deep emotion - keeps the reader vested in what is happening within Heropa. When our hero Jack faces death, it keeps us on the edge of our seat, just as his falling in love melts our hearts because we know for Jack it is all too real.
   The mystery plot was well done and the why of it properly hidden. Like all life, the pathway through the plot is never direct since, like many, Jack gets taken in by a beautiful woman. The love interest keeps the mystery from overpowering the humor and lightness of this tale.
    Bergen does his characters a powerful service by making them so real and simple to connect with throughout the story. It is too easy, when writing a light touch story to give a light brush to the characters. Not only did I connect with the main characters, I fell for the minor characters, too, being completely vested in their lives.
  This is a quality tale with exceptional writing, dialect and all, and something I do hope you pick up.  I have only one question for the writer. Who is Melbourne paying and why???

My Recommendation:
   I loved, loved this book. I believe anyone who loves comic books and their heroes will love this book. Those who are not familiar will still find this edgy tale a keeper. There is a bit of sex, more than a bit of cussing (though clean by many standards) and some violence similar to comic books.