Powerless by Matthew Cody

February 18th, 2010 by Brian Leave a reply »

Superhero books (not comic books/graphic novels – they’ve always been there) are continuing to increase in popularity/selection. I feel Brian Singer is part to thank for that with the first X-Men movie and Superman Returns. Superheroes are grittier, more realistic, and don’t always run around in their pajamas.

In Powerless, main character Daniel moves to a new town and struggles to make friends (does every MG/YA hero need to re-locate before the plot can begin? Is it a symbol of unease?). He befriends a group of kids who share a secret – they are Supers. Some can fly, others can hear ants digging holes, and one just smells really, really bad.

The hook for this superhero novel is that at age 13 the kids routinely lose their powers. This is what separates it from most books, where the kids traditionally grow into their powers and responsibilities. The transition into adulthood is represented here by a loss of memory and abilities.

What made the book for me is the villain. I don’t want to reveal too much because figuring out the villain’s motivation is central to enjoyment of the story.

Superhero tropes run rampant through the book. Matthew Cody knows his stuff. Another fun aspect is that Daniel, a powerless individual, has Sherlock Holmes as a role model. Daniel adopts some of Holmes’ philosophies and uses detective skills. Since I am a much bigger fan of Batman than Superman, I appreciated a hero who put clues together and didn’t just fly right by with superspeed.

Powerless is a fun novel for the middle grade readers, so junior high librarians would be wise to put it on their shelves.


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