X-Men vs. Magneto: A Review for THE MIND READERS by Lori Brighton

Cover image courtesy of Amazon.com

Cameron is in her last year of high school and desperate to move on, though not for the typical reasons. While she has her own share of teen angst, what she can’t wait to escape is the deluge of petty thoughts spilling from everyone’s heads. She’s been able to read minds since she was five and as far as she’s concerned, it’s the bane of her existence.

When a new student approaches Cameron and invites her to join him at a Xavier-esque mansion for other talented mind readers, she accepts. The prospect of learning to control her ability is too tempting to pass up. However, she soon finds that the leader of this group of mind readers is more of a Magneto than Xavier. Cameron must ultimately decide where her morals and her loyalties lie.

I am a sucker for super hero stories, so this whole concept intrigues me. Brighton does a good job identifying the decisions that separate a hero from a villain and the ethical questions that arise from those decisions. I also appreciate the dynamics of the super powers. They are all grounded in mind reading but take a unique twist for each individual.

For the most part the writing is clean. There are a few typos but they would be quick fixes. The errors I found most disruptive were the character inconsistencies. Cameron tells us she’s one way, but behaves contrary to it. For the way she thinks and behaves, I don’t understand why she would be friends with a snobby rich girl. Also, her motives as she explains them don’t make sense to me. Cameron’s relationship with her grandma also lacks conviction.

Cameron’s attraction to the new kid at school bases primarily on his physique, which is annoying, but I am happy to say there is a satisfactory answer for it. The end of the novel is the most interesting part. The characters are more vibrant and Cameron finally acts decisively. I am mildly interested in reading the sequel.

Overall, THE MIND READERS is a good read, despite its flaws. I give it three stars.

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The Dark Soil of Worm: A review for Worm, a web serial

Worm

Courtesy of the author.

The following review starts with a repost from a review that I had posted on Web Fiction Guide on June 25, 2012.

I registered on this site (which I’ve been lurking for awhile) just to review this.

Worm is fascinating in a lot of different ways, but let’s cover the basics first.

The basic premise is an aspiring superheroine who can mind-control various creepy crawlies. Taylor, our protagonist, seems to creep a lot of people out, and with good reason. She can be cunning, ruthless, and unyielding (she’s taken a knife wound to the gut once without flinching). She has shown an uncanny ability to expertly capitalize on the slightest weakness. And, of course, her power involves bugs, what else would you expect?

Still, for all of her strong survivor spirit, she has shown a nobility that transcends her infamy. In a world where the “good guys” constantly makes compromises for their own ends or to protect the status quo, it’s very easy to cheer for Taylor.

Worm is also fascinating for having a rich world environment. Wildbow, the author, has so far demonstrated a genius in developing deep characters with unique powers and/or limitations. Other reviewers have written on this better than I could, so I’ll leave it at that.

The best part about the story, in my opinion, is that the author is not afraid of writing himself into a corner story-wise. The story is interesting because you honestly don’t know for sure how even Taylor is going to react, or how she and her gang are going to survive. Wildbow himself has said that he doesn’t always know—yet, he hasn’t missed a single update.

End of content from Web Fiction Guide

At the time of writing, the audience did not know whether or not Taylor would be able to rise above her supervillainess roots. I also tried to make the above review spoiler-free. What follows will not be. In other words:

SPOILERS

Taylor has gained the trust of the gang that she has infiltrated, the aptly named Undersiders. However, she was never able to gain the trust of the superheroes. In a startling twist, she is betrayed by one of them, forcing her to abandon her aspirations as a superhero and to become a real member of the Undersider gang.

Meanwhile, she finds out that one of her heists was bankrolled by her mysterious benefactor as a means to distract the heroes while he kidnaps a young girl with prophetic powers. Taylor becomes haunted by this and resolves to do everything in her power to save the girl. But can one girl with such a weak superpower be able to stand up to the mysterious Coil? Can she even survive the constant onslaught of enemies that threaten her and her people?

Notes: Even though, technically, the story features a sixteen year old as the protagonist, the reader should be advised that this story is not a YA story. The story features gruesome violence, gut-wrenching topics, and swear words. In Brockton Bay, everyone is desperate just to survive and even the heroes are less than pure.

The story is about 900,000 words long so far.