So far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Drew Hayes, including Forging Hephaestus, NPCs, and the series following Fred the vampire accountant. I figured the time was right to try his other series, Super Powereds. After reading Year 1, my conclusion is only to wonder why I waited so long. I do have to day though, I can totally see the author of Forging Hepheastus in this, and a little NPCs, although I do realize Super Powereds Year 1 came out before either of those titles. It is also somewhat reminiscent of Harry Potter set in the Marvel universe.
One thing that really surprised was that a book of this length (730 pages), it’s a really fast read. I think the choice to keep the short segments preserved from the original web-based presentation of the novel was smart. It helps keep the pace moving pretty consistently, and to keep track of the fairly large number of characters, although there was a time or two I didn’t quite remember who someone was after they reappeared after being absent a while.
The basic story is pretty simple: in a world where super powers are real, but only some people can control them, in order to actually become a hero, you have to be certified by 1 of 5 institutions of higher education. Lander is one such institution, and a group of students who used to be Powereds (the term for those with power they can’t control) but after some mysterious process have become Supers (those who do have control) and are now enrolling at Lander University in the Hero Certification Program. Not only do Mary, Alice, Vince, Hershel/Roy, and Nick have to keep their identities as Supers secret (as all would-be heroes must do), this group must also keep their status as former Powereds hidden as well. Add in the usual college hijinks and personal interactions among the various characters, and it makes for a pretty action-packed suspenseful, yet fun freshman year of college to read about. There’s the inevitable college romances, parties, filed trips, and worries about exams, but there’s also the gradual discovery of the complexities of the individual’s lives and personalities. How smart is Nick really, what makes Mary so strong as a fighter, what is Vince’s backstory (that even he doesn’t seem to know entirely), and what will the group do when some of their secrets are made public by a vengeful fellow student in the program are things that book 1 only starts to answer.
In addition to some really good characterization and mixing of personalities and backgrounds, there are a lot of little reveals about characters as well as larger ones, with the suggestion of much more to come in the future. The conclusion of the novel was a good satisfying ending to the story, but definitely left enough open-ended questions for me to go out and order Year 2 almost as soon as I’d finished Year 1.