Hey, all! Alexa, here! This week, I’m reviewing a sort-of-contemporary, superhero middle-grade story, Super Freak by Vanessa Barger.
Description From Author’s Website:
Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.
To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn’t want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.
Undeterred, Caroline can’t give up. But what’s a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she’s heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.
What originally intrigued me about this story was the concept of Caroline being the only person she knew without powers, but that wasn’t shown quite as much as I thought it would be. In my opinion, the whole mystery aspect took the frontlines, and that isn’t a bad thing, if that’s what you’re looking for. But I was hoping for something a little more focused on Caroline’s character and just how she dealt with being superpowerless. Not to say that that didn’t come up, because it did—a lot. It just wasn’t as much the focus as I thought it was going to be, and the mystery took the spotlight a lot more than I expected.
Still, that was just my expectation, and, to be fair, the mystery was pretty intriguing (though perhaps a little cheesy). Plus, it got pretty exciting towards the end, with a great climax, some disappearances, reappearances, and even a few plot twists I didn’t see coming.
The only other thing I will say is that, while the main mystery was wrapped up nicely, I felt like there were still some smaller plotlines that weren’t tied up as well as they could’ve been. Maybe they’re fodder for a sequel, though, because that would make total sense. It just felt to me like there was still a bit left to this story, still a few mini mysteries we hadn’t quite solved.
Plot: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
Within the first two sentences, I had a feeling I’d enjoy hanging out with Caroline. She was cool and relatable with tons of personality, spark, and sarcasm. I understood and applauded her goals and motivation, plus she was the perfect setup for an MC: too intriguing, too smart, too strong to be normal, yet with enough flaws and insecurities to be human.
The other characters were great too. Though I didn’t get to explore them as much as I did Caroline, they were all interesting, alive, and they played their roles very well. Even Kevin, who came off as kind of cliche at first, got a lot more depth as the book went on and even whipped out an amazing quote I’m going to have to think on for a while.
Characters: 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
Overall, I liked this writing. The descriptions were neat and well-written, and the dialogue felt smooth and natural, yet still had some nice, deep lines that flowed perfectly with the scenes. Granted, there were a few bumps in the narrative here and there, but for the most part, I really enjoyed it. 😀
Before we close, I (obviously) have a few quotes to share.
“All problems have a solution. You just have to remember that sometimes the answer isn’t where you think it’ll be.” ~ Principal Grouseman.
“This is serious, Kevin.” “So is world hunger, but you aren’t going to solve either one when you’re focused on what already happened.”
Writing Style/Setting: 4 stars out of 5.
And we come in at about 4 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed this book. Even though it’s a middle grade, it held my attention and I liked it even more than some of the YAs I’ve read recently. Like most of its genre, it’s pretty clean, but it’s also got enough mystery and suspense, I think, to keep kids that age hooked. If you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself or for the 7th grader in your life, you can pre-order it here for $13.26.
Comment time! What’s your favorite superhero story? Who’s your favorite superhero? If you could have any power or be any kind of supernatural, what would you have or what would you be? Can’t wait to read your comments! 🙂
Note: I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.