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Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

February 18, 2010

You Should Read If: You liked Watchmen but you’re able to read any other ‘super hero story with a twist’ and judge it as something separate.

Take these two characters: 1) a villain named Doctor Impossible with an IQ of 300 and a desire to rule the world (even if he has been thwarted thirteen times) and 2) a female cyborg named Fatale who’s recently become the rookie member of the Champions, a justice league-like superhero team. Combine them together and you’ve got the fascinating narratives of Soon I Will Be Invisible, a debut novel by Austin Grossman. Both protagonists tell the funny, quirky stories of their lives as social outcasts in a superpowered reality, defying the traditional superhero story. For one, the heroes don’t exactly get a good rep, acting more like the jocks at your local high school or A-list celebrities than compassionate citizens of justice:

“Some of them don’t even wear masks anymore. They don’t have secret identities as working-class chumps; they date movie stars and attend celebrity charity events. Even their powers are cooler—fast, fluid, nonlinear.” –Fatale

Doctor Impossible takes on the nerd-who’s-been-wronged angle that makes you root for him from square one, forever yearning to attain glory and get back at all the jerks who treated him indifferently. Meanwhile Fatale, a young girl turned cyborg after a near-fatal car accident (an accident that stripped away her memory along with most of her human body), garners your sympathy as the D-list hero who has a hard time acclimating to being a heavy chunk of metal that no man could ever want to have a relationship with.

There are some really poignant lines mixed with the funny ones, all wrapped around themes of recognition, glory, and the fine line between good and evil. Doctor Impossible admits that he should have been a hero–I’m not stupid, you know, he says–but he knows that he never would have fit in among the likes of the Champions. Maybe this isn’t a new idea, but I liked the notion of villainy as being the only option for the nerdy outcasts of society to make an imprint on the world:

“I could tell who the villains were because they always lost, no matter how good their ideas were…Maybe I should have gone with the program, joined up the winning team, and perhaps I would have, had I been asked. But I have a feeling they wouldn’t have wanted someone like me.” –Doctor Impossible

On a lighter note, this debut novel kept me reading. Whether you’re in it for the smartest man in the world who can’t seem to rule the world or the half-woman half-cyborg playing rookie with the celebrity superheroes, you’ll enjoy it. If not, I could always take my Power Staff and zap you until you can’t say no.

Triumverate Reading Challenge Status:

  • Women: 0
  • Debuts: 2
  • Short Stories: 0
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