I saw somewhere that re-reading or re-watching things we’ve enjoyed in the past is great for anxiety, because you’ve already experienced it. You know exactly what’s going to happen. And a pandemic is full of anxiety, so a lot of us have discovered this comfort!*
Someone on Facebook was asking for recommendations for an audiobook to listen in the car with her 13- and 15-year-old sons, so I recommended Super Powereds: Year 1 by Drew Hayes. I remembered that the story was fantastic and the situations great for kids about to go into college. So then I started relistening to the glorious voice that is Kyle McCarley tell me the story once again. And then soon after, I went back into that Facebook post and rescinded my recommendation on the basis that the story takes place with teens in college, and they are definitely using teens-in-college language and get into situations that unsupervised college kids are wont to get into. I mean, there’s a character who makes clones of herself and they say ‘she’s her own gang bang.’ Not the best thing to listen to with your mom.
On the other hand, I would recommend reading or listening (without your mom) to kids in high school. I mean, I would also base it on the individual kid on how young to go. There is a lot of swearing, but other than that not much explicit stuff. There is no explicit sex, but they talk about it a lot, because college and teenage hormones. I feel like I would feel more comfortable having kids read the books younger than listen to the audiobooks, but the audiobooks are so fantastic that I want everyone to experience them! Kyle McCarley puts so much tension and emotion into his reading, and stretches moments out. In reading, it’s easy to gloss over things, and the books were originally written as a web serial, so the chapters are very short. The audiobooks on the other hand are very long, with the series clocking in at almost 180 hours, and I don’t know how many teens (or people in general) will look at that number and think, “Yes, I want to devote seven and a half days of my life to this!” On the other hand, once you start, you can’t stop. I introduced one of my coworkers to the series, and she admitted to taking her phone into the bathroom while she showers to keep listening!
In a very brief summary, you have people with normal super powers, or Supers. You also have people with super powers, but they can’t control them, and they are called Powereds. Not being able to control your super powers sucks, and is often dangerous. But there is a new secret procedure that can turn Powereds into Supers, and five 18-year-olds are chosen to undergo said secret procedure. They are also enrolled in the Hero Certification Program at Lander University. Because not everyone gets to be a hero, no, they have to go through a rigorous 4-year training program while also getting a regular college degree. Only 1 out of every 5 kids who enroll as freshmen get to graduate at the end. So there’s regular college and growing up stresses, while also learning how to use and control super powers and kick the shit out of other people. Add in some conspiracies and drama and you’re all set for a wild ride! (And in Corpies, you get to semi-see the hero side of things as well!)
For the Melbrook Five, our former Powereds who have been turned into Supers, we have the story of five lonely kids learning to grow up. They learn how to love and succeed and live a life they never thought they would have. Vince was a homeless kid wandering the streets, constantly afraid of his powers and hurting others. He never got to experience a real childhood. Well, none of the kids really did, except for maybe Roy and Hershel. They were two brothers in the same body, constantly struggling for control. Mary couldn’t help hearing the thoughts of everyone around her, so she secluded herself in the middle of a forest, surviving completely alone. Alice was a lonely rich girl, trotted out for parties, but always afraid of becoming too happy lest she float away. And Nick, raised in the crime-ridden world of a Las Vegas casino, was constantly in a state of wondering if anything good or bad to him or his loved ones happened because of his powers. Having control over their powers took out a big sense of uncertainty about their lives. It gave them the opportunity to take their lives back.
The characters are so well-written and complex, so you get drawn in to the slice-of-life situations they get into. The main characters are basically the Melbrook Five, and some case can be argued for Vince as the main main character, but there are chapters from other perspectives as well, and you get invested. You want these kids to succeed and do well. (There are also parts I cry at every single time.) They all learn to grow during the course of the series. Chad learns how to relax and enjoy life, Camille learns to stand up for herself, Will learns to take charge when he needs to, Shane learns to step out from his grandfather’s and sister’s shadows (lol), Alex and Thomas learn their versatility.
In Corpies you see the hero life from the other side of graduation. You see how one wrong decision can change your life and that of your family. Owen made one bad call, took one wrong path, and it caused him to leave the life and family he loved due to shame. He had an opportunity to take the hard path that would have helped a lot of people, and he chose not to. He was a coward, and he admits it, and now it’s time to step up and start making up for the mistakes that he made. You also see what paths Supers can take if they aren’t bound for hero life. Just because the bad guy is caught doesn’t mean the work is done, after all. Someone has to clear the roads of debris for tomorrow morning’s commute. There are also “normal people” problems happening here too, and they have nothing to do with punching. People who have powers are still people, and whatever job they chose to do is valid and necessary to keep society running.
So this is fulfilling my CBR12 Bingo square of “Happy,” not only because I love this series and it makes me happy every time I listen to it, but also because I found a Discord channel for Drew Hayes fans, so now I can chat with a group of people who really love this author too! (If you want the link, let me know!)
*That’s probably why I watched the Pride and Prejudice musical on StreamingMusicals.com every day for a few weeks – check it out, everything but the costumes are great! (The costumes are really bad, though…) I think it’s on Amazon Prime Video as well now! If you watch it or want more info, let me know!
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