Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Source: (or zipped mp3's)
Length: Approx. 8 hrs
Reader: Mur Lafferty

The story: Keepsie Branson has a superpower. This alone should make her a superhero: fighting crime, wearing a costume, and waving to her adoring public. Right? Well, that's not exactly the case, for three major reasons. First, Keepsie lives in Seventh City, a metropolis with lots of people who have superpowers of one sort or another. Second, Keepie's superpower isn't all that useful when it comes to fighting crime. Third, the superheroes of Seventh City, the ones with actually useful superpowers, tend to be jerks. So, instead of donning a cape and tights, then going out to fight crime, Keepsie owns and manages a bar, one that caters to other people with mostly-useless superpowers.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that Keepsie and her friends are likable characters with real human flaws. The worldbuilding is interesting, but borrows heavily from other "superheroes aren't what the public sees" worlds like Watchmen and The Incredibles. The plot often relies on characters acting stupidly or impulsively, but this can be forgiven since real people do sometimes act in these ways. This is a fun, funny novel that isn't a great work of fiction, but is an entertaining story.

Rating: 6/10

The reader: This novel was originally podcast in installments, so there's a bit of talk, promotions and music that you may want to fast-forward through at the beginning and end of each episode. The audio is well-produced, with only a bit of volume-clipping at the top ranges. Lafferty is an excellent reader of her own work. She puts emotion into her characters' voices and changes her pacing and tone to improve the novel beyond what it would be in print.


Felbrigg said...

I thought this could have been a good YA novel if the author had left out the swearing. At the same time it wasn't really serious enough for an adult novel.

Listener said...

I know what you mean. There are several slightly different things she could have done with the book to make it better. I really wanted it to be a good book, but it never quite lived up to its potential.