This book is kind of like if Office Space and Better Off Ted were written into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it is perfection. And from a fellow Canadian!
Plot: villains get their staff same as any other major corporation, through temp agencies. Anna is a temp that does data entry work for villains. She doesn’t care about who they are, she just needs to pay rent. That is, until a chance encounter with a hero leaves her very badly injured, and real mad. Stuck on the couch and out of work, it turns out her skills on a computer are waaaay underused in her work, because she starts developing an actuarial analysis of heroes and finding that they cause way more damage than anything most villains do. She posts her research on a blog, as one does, and before she knows it, she’s been hired by the biggest baddie in town to run a department of data sleuths to unearth even more.
This is something I’ve often thought about – the bureaucratic structures that must exist for villains and heroes to actually function the way comics present them. Still, nothing I’ve ever thought of comes close to this narrative, that weaves classic and beloved comic tropes with real world problems in a way that keeps the story not only grounded but one that offers meaningful insights into how important it is to critically question the world around you. And there is so much for data analysis nerds.
This book is filled with righteous rage against a system only few benefit from. There is a risk with stories like that getting bogged down with theorizing but not here. The book takes a little while to get going but once it goes its momentum carries it all the way to the final sentence. Secondary characters have depth and a sense of humour and often help pull Anna out of her obsession with work and keep the book from feeling too heavy. The cast is also very diverse, but not in a way that screams Very Special Episode. They’re just people doing their thing and get to be whole people that aren’t defined by their sexuality, or gender identity, or race, or physical ability. Everyone is valued. It’s lovely.
Quick warning though – violence is rare in this book. It is, after all, about the power of Doing Your Research, but when there is violence, it is *brutal*. I cannot overstate how brutal it is. There are detailed descriptions of what bones are doing that bones should not be doing. So if you’re squeamish, you might struggle with this.
I thought this book would leave me angry too, but it’s a cleansing anger, a reminder that everyone has sometimes to contribute to a better world. This book is spectacular fun and incredibly smart and you should all read it right now.