It’s been said here before that I’m a sucker for “sale” books. That’s true, but I’m also a sucker for superhero books. I don’t mean comic books, which you all know that I like, but I mean novels about superheroes…and not just Spider-Man or Bat-Man, either.
Soon I will be Invincible, by Austin Grossman, is just that, a superhero book about a bunch of heroes and villains we’ve never heard of before. Actually, I want to say that I prefer books like that. I think the reason is that I expect Spider-Man to act in a certain way (that established by the main man, Stan Lee) and when he doesn’t, I get a little upset. Early efforts were done well, but in recent years, many authors have been given great liberty and it generally doesn’t go over well with me.
Regardless, the cover to SIWBI grabbed me immediately—it did exactly what it was supposed to do…it got my attention. Plus, I love the title; kinda long, but very telling.
SIWBI starts off fantastic. Told in first person from the points of view of Dr. Impossible, the main bad guy, and Fatale, a new superheroine, we are dragged right into the story. Dr. Impossible, a supervillain who suffers from Malign Hypercognition Disorder (otherwise known as “evil genius syndrome”) is incredibly fascinating. When the story begins, he’s in prison after having been captured for about the twelfth time, plotting and planning not his escape, but his next attempt to take over the world.
Fatale has moments, but on the whole is pretty forgettable as are most of the other “heroes.” Many of the heroes are thinly veiled ripoffs of long established characters, or amalgamations of some. Granted, that’s part of the draw to them, to see what characteristic and personality quirks he picks up from this. Grossman pokes fun at superheroes and comics and often it is difficult to tell if he’s making fun of comics or if he’s treating it seriously. That may be because some of the novel reads seriously and other sections make you think he’s making fun. Again, the best sections are those with Dr. Impossible. I’d almost like to see the non-Impossible chapters removed, make the whole book about him as Grossman does a very nice job getting inside the head of someone who’s just not quite right.
I didn’t realize it when I bought it, but some quick internet research revealed that SIWBI was a finalist for the 2007 John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize.
Do I recommend it?
Yeah, I do. It’s not the best thing you’ll read and there are parts that are slow…but the pages continue to turn and you find yourself hurrying through Fatale’s chapters wanting to know what happens with Dr. Impossible.