The bottom line: Fun and punchy writing gets together with superheroes and a dynamic (if not somewhat stretchy) plot to produce some spectacular (and I don’t use the word loosely) scenarios, but unfortunately lacking depth in certain key areas.
If this story were a drink it was be a glowing, lime green liquid handed to you in a glass test tube that- after being quaffed- would give you the power to fly faster than a speeding bullet.
If this book were an animal, it would be a chimera with ADD, one that turns and twists and morphs like mad as it bursts across the landscape.
How to dress for this book: Oh, you know: glossy spandex, shiny boots, mask, cape.
When I plunk my Seven Wonders (Adam Christopher, 2012 & available from Brookline Booksmith) review down onto Goodreads and possibly LibraryThing (although I have been somewhat negligent of LibraryThing lately) I will give it 4 stars, but I really feel like it’s more of 3.666 star book, somewhere on the line between good and very good.
Seven Wonders has a lot going for it. It harnesses a take-no-prisoners plot (involving superheroes, cosmic power tools, tough-guy cops, and psychic alien threats) to a narrative a voice that both (1) pokes fun at the conventions of genre (ala Edlund’s Tick comics but maybe with a shade more irony), and (2) that maintains a detached postmodern perspective while (3) never entirely losing the innocent wide-eyed wonder of simply being a fanboy. A great example of this blended style occurs near the end of the book when a small army of superheroes awaits contact with an alien force. Christopher delivers the goods, describing (with a sense of awe and hushed voice) the assorted heroes floating like an array of multicolored stars against the background of the cosmos, but also keeps on sneaker-shod foot rooted in satire by mentioning that one of the superheroes is named “The Man with a Gun in His Hand” (Or something like that- I’m not going to dig through a 400 page book to find a name that is mentioned just once & By the time you say that guy’s name, he will have shot and killed you.)
As mentioned far above, the plot itself dodges and weaves with nice energy. Unfortunately however the energy is not complimented with enough focus. Which is not to say that the story of Seven Wonders is completely free of focus, but it never quite finds its way to a deeper groove, you know, the kind of groove that grounds us with the character and the moment.
Is it the story of Tony Prosdocimi (one minor quibble- I have no idea how to pronounce this name. I would guess like: Pro-do-chimi -???) who mysteriously gains superpowers? It’s kind of his story. Or is it the story of the mysterious supervision the Cowl and his sudden transformation. Yes, well sort of. Or is it the story of the Seven Wonders themselves? Not really, but almost! Is it the story of a robot gone haywire. Ummm- kind of….
The answer to all the above is both “yes” and “no” and further complicated by the fact that certain main characters (trying go avoid too many spoilers here) keep changing personality and motives throughout the book. Whether this is an intentional attempt at stylized narrative or just a byproduct of frenetic plotting, it does the story and the reader no favors. I would have been happier if some of those elements had been better grounded.
Despite these flaws, I do recommend The Seven Wonders, especially to comic book fans. It’s a rockin’ -fun ride with some memorable moments and does nice job delivering comic book kicks without and actual comic.