Wednesday, December 3, 2008

League of Superheroes by Stephen Leon Rice

League of Superheroes
by Stephen Leon Rice

This month, CFRB presents League of Superheroes by Stephen L. Rice

The League of Superheroes is a group of schoolchildren, four classmate boys and one little sister named Clarice. And before we go any further, I need to take a detour. You see, I never read a book with my own name as a character. However, this came close because I had a math teacher in junior high who called me "Clarice". Don't ask me how he could mispronouce it that way with it printed in his grade book and on top of every piece of homework and test I turned in, but he did. For two whole years. So I probably identified with this character a little more because of that. Back to the story.

Clarice's brother and his three friends are on the geeky side (another reason to identify with them) and they're into superhero comics. When Clarice introduces the guys to Genie, a girl she met in KidChat, none of them is prepared for how much it will change everything. You see, when they introduce Genie to the superhero websites, Genie studies their favorites and then somehow MAKES supersuits which give these young geeks REAL superpowers, just like their idols. Genie doesn't talk like a little girl, and not even an adult should have been able to fulfill such a tall order as to covert kids into real superheroes. And since none of them has ever seen Genie, they are all left wondering who -or what- she really is. When the League tries to uncover Genie's secrets, accidents start to happen and only the power of the supersuits saves their lives.

There's lots of action and a good level of suspense. When we finally get a glimpse of Genie, I couldn't help but think of a certain old Star Trek episode, but to tell you which episode or what character it reminded me of would be spoiling too much. It's a credit to Mr. Rice that he doesn't give away too much until the last possible moment. Another pleasant surprise was the wittiness of the dialog. I can't resist giving an example. This is a conversation between the adult villain and one of the Leaguers in full Supersuit/costume:

“How interminably droll,” my host observed. “Now, why did you come here—really?”

“I thought we might discuss matters like mature, intelligent human beings. Or failing that, we might at least have a standard superhero-to-villain chat, in which you laugh a lot and explain your evil plan to conquer the world, and I provide moral and ethical opposition to your wickedness, tell you that you shall not succeed, and wind up outwitting you and bringing your schemes to naught. Does that work for you?”

I think this book would appeal to YA readers, but it's not as "dumbed-down" as books written for this age often are. Some of the scientific explanations for the supersuit technology went over my head and I'm pretty geeky myself. I had a hard time figuring out where the science left off and the fiction started. But there was never a time when the lack of understanding made the actions hard to follow. This is also a book that doesn't hold any punches when it comes to controvesial issues like abortion. I really loved the scene where the abortionist was overcome by the accusing souls of all the babies he'd murdered, but I can only guess that a NARAL mom would be burning the book in public if she caught one of her kids reading it. Great job!

League of Superheroes Wiki

Read Chapter 1 for FREE

Purchase League of Superheroes at Writer's Cafe Press and get it autographed free! Also available at Barnes and Noble.

Reluctantly, I mention that League of Superheroes is also available at Amazon. However, because of their new BookSurge monopoly policy, I IMPLORE you not to buy books from those greedy weasels unless you have a gift certificate or reward points that you can't use elsewhere.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.


  1. Great review Caprice. Since Steve writes in a way that fills everything with action and humor I neglected to mention the dialog, but you are definitely right. He provides realistic dialog, the "superhero" banner dialog, and the Internet chat dialog all in different ways to show each situation. For a short book I was really bowled over, in a very, very good way.


  2. I'm mildly surprised that few have commented on the abortion angle, even though it's pivotal to the story and the series. The next story, Genie at Large, makes that even more obvious.

    Anyway, thanks for the review!

  3. Steve, I meant to do that in the second essay that I never wrote. Sorry.

    Caprice, I also wondered when the hard science left off and the fiction began. It sounds so plausible most of the time. That whole scene with the abortionist was pretty gripping.

  4. Adding in the abortionist info perks my interest. I had one magazine reject a story of mine for that reason. So I guess that could be a downside to some. But I have a distinct feeling based on this review that it will be a positive for me. :)

  5. Thanks, Rick and Cathi, for stopping by. Unless you're pro-choice (doesn't sound like it from the rejection), I think the abortion angle will be a positive. Steve, I would imagine that other reviewers have been reluctant to discuss it precisely because it is so integral to the plot. Perhaps they don't know how to incorporate it without be a spoiler?

  6. Yo, Cap--
    IMHO, this is a GrEaT read aloud book. And little things that a YA reader might miss would crack up an older reader.
    This is one fun book, written by a fungi.
    *duck into cubicle*


  7. A fungi? So are you calling Steve a single-celled lifeform or was that a typo for "fundi"? LOL!

  8. Nicely done, Caprice.

    Since I have read the book and review after review, I am always on the lookout for the new and unusual . . . so I enjoyed the Clarice angle (though, to be truthful, it reminded me of "Quid pro quo, Clarice" (paraphrased of course).

    Oh, and love your amazon blurb -- well-executed.


    P.S. "fungi" is nerd-speak for Fun Guy. Yeah, I know.

  9. Learning new thinsg here. Okay. Fungi=Fun Guy (I guess I am TOO nerdy. Only the letter "i" or the letter "e" would make the g soft. If I wanted a nerdy way to say fun-guy, I'd spell it fungae, but that, of course is a feminine ending and everyone who's ever taken Latin knows fungus is a masculine word. Thus we see that girls can't be fun guys.)

    I have no idea where the reference "Quid pro quo, Clarice" comes from. I can translate the Latin just fine, but I'm missing the joke. Please enlighten. :)

  10. Ya think I'm going to make it easy for you?

    Google it (but spell it Clarise)

    BTW, did you want me to send a hardcopy of LoS?


  11. I shoulda guessed it was from some horror flick. Hannibal Lecter said that, eh? Okay, I should file that in the noggin. BTW, google liked Steve's spelling with a "c" better.