Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Book Review of Failstate: Legends by John W. Otte

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A young superhero. 
A legend reborn. 
And a whole mess of zombies. 

Failstate (a.k.a., Robin Laughlin) thought his life would get easier after he’d earned his superhero license. But now a legendary superhero has returned from the dead...along with a horde of shambling horrors who want to eat his brains. 

New Chayton’s other licensed heroes are indisposed, meaning that the whole weight of protecting the city has fallen on Failstate. And nobody thinks he’s up to the challenge. At least he has help from his older brother, Gauntlet, and his best friend, Veritas. Or does he? 

As if the zombie apocalypse weren’t enough, complicating things are not one but two beautiful girls vying for Failstate/Robin’s affections—and his own powers are doing something...interesting. 

In the superhero business, interesting is bad. 

Legends walk the streets of New Chayton. If Failstate can somehow survive the next few weeks, he could become one of them.

Series: Failstate (Book 2)
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Publisher: Marcher Lord Press (February 27, 2013)
Page Count: 464 pages

What I liked: The Failstate series has become one of my favorite CBA series. Each book just keeps getting better and better with fun plots and a delightful cast of characters. This book focuses a lot on Failstate trying to get himself established in the superhero world. He's the noob--and no one takes him seriously. His overseeing VOC (Vigilante Overseeing Commissions) Agent Sexton who is supposed to be on his side is a total jerk. 

One thing I love about the world is that heroes are an established thing. Otte in his brilliance came up with the VOC that manages superheros and cleans up after large battles and takes care that they don't go haywire. I think Marvel would be jealous of that idea. Battle of New York anyone? Yeah, the Avengers trashed it. If they had the VOC, they could help a ton. Also they pay the superheroes which I think is cool, because they're like military. 

The plot is very compelling and a bit of a mystery. It has a lot of conspiracy elements which is very fun and lots and lots of super baddy fights with snarky superhero lines. The bad guy plan is unique and intense. I love that the superheros pray before going into battle. I thought that was a neat touch and made total sense and it didn't come off as cheesy. The conflict builds up nicely and the description is great. And some big plot twists come in to knock your socks off. 

Failstate is a great main character. He's kind and not macho and his powers get a sweet upgrade in this book. His brother Gauntlet is the complete opposite, but his head has deflated some since the first book, making me like him better. Charlene, Failstate's new crush, is sweet, and she and Failstate have some adorable teenage awkward love moments. There also is some good conflict with them for reasons which I'll let you fall out, but it's a masterful point of conflict.

Another thing I love about this book is we get to meet a bunch of new superheros and I love their abilities. Doctor Olympus' are my favorite. Her ability is to have the personalities of three Greek goddesses: Athena, Artemis, and Aphrodite. How could is that?! As a Greek mythology buff, I was eating that up. 

I love the many references Otte makes like cosplay, a Charlie Brown reference, a Narnia reference, and even a Jill Williamson reference that had me laughing. Also Rob (Failstate) has my same brand of car and I felt pretty epic. XD

The resounding theme of the book is serving in humility. Failstate feels like he's not good enough because he's constantly overshadowed by other heroes, but being a true servant means not always getting all of the fame and glory. And sometimes serving in little ways can make big impacts.

Now there was an entire crowd of licensed heroes in my city, doing my job. And my older brother was getting better press than me. Even as the bitter thought twisted in my mind, I recognized it for what it was. Petty. Unhelpful. Sin. If I had become a hero for fame and publicity, yeah, then maybe I'd have a reason to be upset. But that wasn't why I put on a costume. I got into this to help people. ~ Rob Laughlin (Failstate) from Failstate: Legends

What I didn't like: Though I really loved this book, I believe the writing could be smoother and I found typos on three pages and I felt out of sync with Rob near the end. Lastly, I wondered why Rob didn't just take pictures of the zombies on his phone for proof.

Content Cautions: This book is very clean. I'd say PG. The only questionable content is the mentions of drugs, alcohol, and human trafficking. The zombies are kind of gross, but nothing that made flinch. A character says "sucks" once. I don't have a problem with that word, but I know some people do. 

All in all this is a great book with fun characters, a great plot, an unusual theme, and a wonderful ending. Highly recommend it. Four stars!

About the Author:
John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, he's a Lutheran minister. He graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a theatre major and then from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. By night, he writes weird stories. He lives in South St. Paul, MN, with his wife and two sons. Find him on his websiteFacebookGoodreads and Twitter!

Check out my review of the first book of the series Failstate!

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