Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of Super Born by Keith Kornell, subtitled Seduction of Being, classic superhero lit, sub-genre superwomen, infused with humor and a touch of sex/romance.
Characters: Much of Super Born shares first-person narratives between its two protagonists. Allie is the mysterious “super born” super heroine of the title. Logan is the man obsessed with finding her.
Both characters bring humorous, self-deprecating charm to their accounts making them likeable and accessible.
Here’s Allie, blonde, 30-something, single-mom and part-time accountant learning of her new powers in the opening paragraph of Super Born.
The first clue came the day I innocently jumped to get a bowl off of a high shelf. This was not a big leap, mind you, just a little hop. But I found myself chest deep through the ceiling and into my upstairs neighbor’s kitchen. Amazingly, my first reaction was to wonder how my neighbors got a new refrigerator and stove out of our cheapskate landlord. And was that a new dishwasher? Mine barely worked.
Okay, I immediately like this character, and not the less after seeing her through the eyes of Logan, a somewhat shlumpy everyman in this initial encounter.
There sat a luscious, long-haired blond, early thirties, with shining gray eyes. “My God!” I was startled. “Where did she come from?” … Then, as the tension between us built, her eyes suddenly flashed right at me, blue, then green, like the rotating light of a lighthouse. I had never seen anything like it. Then her eyes flashed at me again. My jaw dropped a bit, and I remained speechless for a long, thrilling moment. Holy beaver balls! I thought. Did that really just happen, or was that another trick my imagination was playing on me, like the time I thought I actually paid my rent on time?
As you can see, there’s a bit of physical description. Not as much as I like, but certainly enough to give reader imaginations enough to work with.
Keith does a fine job bringing his characters to life through their first-person narratives.
Plot: When Allie suddenly finds herself with super-strength — enough to hold a beer truck over her head with one hand, super speed and the power of flight — she rescues an airliner in trouble — she decides to use her powers to help others. She wears a black jump suit and Zorro mask and fights crime as the B.I.B. — the Bitch In Black, keeping her identity a closely guarded secret to protect her friends and teen daughter Paige.
Logan, obsessed and infatuated with Allie following a chance encounter in a bar, devotes everything he has to finding her again.
Meanwhile, organized crime is out to kill Allie, and someone or something even more dangerous has her in sights as well.
Setting: It’s Scranton, Pa., yep, home of the “The Office,” and while being prosaic for superhero tales more often set in metropolises like, well Metropolis, or New York, or L.A., is completely fitting for this blue-collar super-heroine story.
What I thought could’ve been done better: Main characters, Allie, Logan and a few supporting main characters, including Carmine the crime boss, all advance the story through their own first-person perspectives. And they do it in character, always well-defined.
The problem is that the change of narrator comes with no warning. One minute, we’re immersed in Allie’s point-of-view, then there’s a new chapter which might continue with Allie, or suddenly switch to Logan or Carmine.
I tended to carry the previous chapter’s POV into the new one, with nothing to tell me otherwise, until the narrative gave me a “waitaminute” moment.
Keith draws his characters clearly enough that it’s plain within a paragraph or two — sometimes a sentence or two — who the new POV is. But why have even that small amount of cloudiness?
Simply including the narrator’s name before or after the chapter title could easily improve the clarity of the read.
I did spot a few typos in the book — certainly no more than any professionally published title would have. Nowhere near the level many of us indie authors contend with, however.
What I thought was good: I really liked the straight-forward way Keith delivers the tale. Here’s Logan telling us what we’re in for in the second chapter:
Even now, just thinking of her absorbs every feeling and thought in my head and hardens my… resolve. There was the way the sun glistened in the various shades of blond of her hair, the way the moonlight shimmered off her lips before that kiss on the rooftop, the way her whole face smiled before she laughed, her sarcastic humor that always left me guessing, and the way her skin glowed wherever I touched her as we flew over the city that night. Yes, mine was the ol’ boy meets superwoman, boy loses superwoman, boy spends rest of his life (and money) searching for superwoman story. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before. No? Well then, this is your lucky day.
Dialogue is snappy and advances character. Here, Allie makes excuses to cover her absence with her teen-age daughter Paige, after rescuing an airliner in flight with blown-out engines (loved that, too).
“Where were you, Mom?”
“I did leave the office at five. But I had to deliver some papers to Mr. O’Brien, the office manager. The battery on my phone was dead. That’s all. I never got your calls.”
“That was hours ago, Mom.”
“I went for a walk in the park. I had a rough day.”
That’s when she surveyed my ratty hair, torn clothes, and the smell of jet fuel that surrounded me. Her face changed.
“The park at night? I warned you not to go back to The Banshee! The guys at that bar are losers!”
I had had enough.
I walked away down the hall toward my bedroom, “All the guys in this town are losers! And I wasn’t at The Banshee. That’s Thursday. They have Thirsty Thursdays, half-price drinks.”
“Not funny! You never care what I have to say!”
Of course, I loved the action. Here, Allie rescues a hostage from mobsters.
He circled away and looked for his opening to strike. “What the hell you supposed to be, some kind of witch?”
I stopped moving. “Let’s get it stright. It’s not witch… it’s bitch,” I said, unleashing a front kick that easily powered through his attempt at a forearm block.
The kick must have surprised the thug immensely. But the pain of being sent through the two-by-fours and siding of the old house must have been worse. By the time he landed in the snowy yard, he was unconscious.
I looked at the hole in the wall— cold air and snowflakes were now swirling through it— and then to the window two feet away, wondering how I could have missed sending him through the window as planned
As a beer-drinker, I especially liked the prominent role beer plays in the tale. Characters knock back lots of bottles at a time, and beer tricks zip around through the city, and even fall from the sky.
I also enjoyed the story’s unique superpowers origin explanation, which I won’t try to recreate here. I’ll just say that instead of experiment gone awry or other standards of the genre, this one involves the Superbowl.
Overall: While Super Born doesn’t break any new ground in the superheroine line, other than the interesting origin, its treatment is lively, witty and entertaining. Characters are likeable — even the villains.
Super Born has positive themes of making the best of who we are, and of never giving up on love folded into a fun, action-packed, kick-ass adventure. Great story in general; required reading for fans of superheroine lit.
Good job Keith!