Title: Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots
Series: Velveteen vs.
Author: Seanan McGuire
Published: 2012 by ISFiC Press
Pages: 180 pages
Status: November 28 to December 02, 2013
Genre: Superhero fiction, humor
This book is in one word: Fun
But if I have to write a bit more, since one word reviews aren’t very interesting now are they. The book is not only very entertaining and funny, it is also very intelligent and thought-provoking.
There is a highly intelligent introduction by Jim C. Hines and an afterword by Carrie Vaughn both very much worth reading. I am sure I will be restating some of their points. I will try to say something they have not said as well.
What I found really compelling about this book is the humor mixed with the darkness of human nature. The cooperation that is the Super Patriots does a lot to dehumanize their employes to the point where the children are only called by their superhero handles and are treated like corporate assets rather than people. Their handlers never have names, they are just ma’am and sir.
There is a heartbreaking scene where young Velveteen and Sparkle Bright are shown their new “homes” which is totally unpersonalised white rooms with a cot and a desk in. And are told that they can decorate their rooms once they start earning money, so they better get some merchandising deals soon. They are twelve years old at this point. As Velma puts it:
anything people called “living quarters” was not actually the same as “bedroom”
The cooperation of course has to dehumanize them if they are to accept the casualties numbers that they get. Half of the junior superheroes dies or a critically injured in the line of “duty”. If they did not dehumanize them they would have to change their practices and policies and I am sure they wouldn’t want that.
I love how Velma throughout the book gets an understanding for why some of the supervillains might be opposing the Super Patriots, that they might just want to be left alone, that they might not really be evil. Perhaps it is all Marketing’s fault?
All of this extra layering of the book is packages inside a really funny and entertaining adventure story about a woman who chooses to be a hero. The story really plays with the tropes of the superhero genre.
If anyone had ever wondered why she wasn’t as committed to the cause of justice as some of her teammates, they should really have taken a look at her crappy origin story.
So lets just take a look at her crappy origin story. Her parents are basically looser drunks who sold her to the Super Patriots when she was too much trouble and they could get a good price for her contract. This really isn’t a happy book so it is a huge accomplishment just how funny and entertaining it manages to be.
The damnable, familiar theme music, with its bouncy major key and its easy-to-sing lyrics that borrowed into the brain like tapeworms.
I don’t read any other author than McGuire who just throws out a tapeworm metaphor because that is the one that makes most sense. Have I said just how icky and creepy I find tapeworms?
Most kids superheroes make kid stars look well-adjusted, sane and absolutely well-socialized.
I love how uncomfortable Velveteen looks in her costume on the cover, she is never quite comfortable with the costumes that the Super Patriots make the female superheros wear. Even as a teenager she felt overly exposed in her costume, that isn’t half as nice as the one the child version of her wears.
Ok that probably makes it sound more bleak and unpleasant than it really is it really is a very funny book and it really is entertaining – I am of course just going all crit-lit on it and pull out all the deep and meaningful bits. As I said my original review was just “fun”. So please don’t let my depressingly grown up thoughts talk you about of reading the book, they visit Halloween land for crying out loud. And there is a corn maze and they get chased by scarecrow.
I want the next book but I would really like it as an ebook, which isn’t out yet, so I guess I will have to be a good girl and wait. *Sigh* hate waiting.