Before I get started, this is the sixth book in a series. (I’m sure you guessed this by the title.) There are going to be some spoilers. Make good choices, dear reader.
Previously in Action Figures: Carrie Hauser is a 16 year old superhero on a team of 16 year old superheroes. The Hero Squad–they know the name is lame, thanks–is apprenticed to local hero team, The Protectorate. Carrie’s friends are Stuart (doubles as tank Superbeast–keep the previous aside in mind, it’ll save us all some time), Missy (genetically modified chaos muppet Kunoichi), Sara (telepath Psyche), and Matt (inventor extraordinaire Captain Trenchcoat). Carrie herself has a pair of implants that she pulled off a dying alien that allow her to fly at supersonic speeds, some degree of strength, and some firepower. The group has gotten into scrapes and shenanigans, including taking out extra-dimensional demons and dealing with a sadistic advanced mind. The last book ended with aliens landing in their hometown, looking for the alien Carrie’s implants came from. Turns out the implants are a big like a Lantern Corps ring in that they carry obligations to a galactic peacekeeping body. Carrie takes off to fulfill her duties to the Not Lantern Corps.
In Power Play, Carrie’s absence forces the gang’s hand: they have to reveal their extracurricular activities to their parents. Explaining Carrie’s absence requires outing her. Outing Carrie means they all get outed. It goes as spectacularly bad as one might expect. Possibly a little worse because secrets are a bit like a contagion.
Old enemies have leveled up and come back around. Now the kids are fighting their parents (who want to keep them safe) and the bad guys (who know where to find them). The hits just keep on coming. There’s a pretty nice silver lining, though, in that one of the shadowy bad guys also loses his secret identity. So they got that going for ’em.
One of the things that keeps me coming back to this series is that the characters grow over time. I’m not always invested in the story on the page, but I’m always here for writing of The Hero Squad. The teenagers feel like real teenagers. No shocking precocious vocabulary or wisdom beyond their years. They mess up in age-appropriate ways.
Within the series, Power Play really shines in the realistic reactions of both the parents and the kids when the kids come out of the closet. The larger plot arc is finally pulled into focus, and I’m interested to see where they go with it. I would put this behind Cruel Summer as my second favorite book in the series.
This is absolutely YA cape fiction, so YMMV on that. The kids have been sexually active, though nothing is explicit. Limited use of mature language.