Damit Carrie Vaughn, you just added a book to my to read list. Now I have to read the next one. And she already have me reading Kitty Norville books. Before I read Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots I had not read any books about superheros, only comics and I wouldn’t have thought that it was something to seek out. But knowing the genre and the tropes makes for really interesting reads, when they are played with and that is exactly what Carrie Vaughn is up to.
The book is about Celia West who is the daughter of two superhuman vigilantes (they are never referred to as superheros). Celia has no superpowers herself, she is an accountant and tries to live an as normal life as possible. But she keeps being kidnapped. The book is told from her point of view and in a rather sarcastic voice, even though it is told in third person – she is commenting on events.
There was her hidden talent. Celia West: Bait Girl. Hostage Lass. The Captive Wonder.
For me it took some time before the book really picked up, not because there was a lot of setup but because it took some time for it to draw me in. But once that happened around the 40 % mark (last night) I just wanted to keep going. The plot picks up and start moving with a high clip. Because Celia isn’t a superhuman but rather an accountant the mystery is of course solved by digging around in old records and financial papers rather than by banging heads.
Evil masterminds never were, more’s the pity. Accountants knew when to shred the documents.
Celia is convinced that she is just an ordinary human being, not by any stretch of the imagination a hero…
What the kidnappers never understood was that Celia West was expendable.
She’d understood that early on. When it came to choosing between her own safety or the safety of Commerce City, the city always won. She understood that, and usually even believed it herself.
And she says she isn’t a hero. If that isn’t a hero’s thinking then I don’t know what is. And she does get to have a little action her self.
The book has a nice romance in it without it ever taking over from the plot or moving into anything like the romance genre, but there are some very funny meeting-the-in-laws scenes with both sets of parents. On a whole the book is quite funny. I giggled and laughed out loud a number of times.
So in short: A funny read that plays with the superhero tropes quite a lot: Secret identities, masterminds telling their plans to the hostage, being saved in the nick of time, heroes in tights etc. It is a story about not needing powers to be heroic, about growing up and digging out a space for your self in the world, about parents relationship to their grown children. An entertaining read that I want more of – let the next book come out now!
The author: female, white, US resident
The protagonist: Celia West: female, white, straight, heiress, accountant, able-bodied .
Setting: Commerce City, present day