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September 2021 Review: Secrets and Superpowers


Author: Jason C. Joyner

Publisher: Little Lamb Books

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Superpowers. At some point in our childhood years, we all wish we had them. Maybe there are some of us who still do. (I, mean, who wouldn’t want to fly?) That notion brings me to Jason C. Joyner’s creative take on the superhero genre, Launch.

The Launch Conference is the opportunity of a lifetime for fifty youth in California who have been brought together by the latest social media technology, Flare. Simon Mazor, the founder of the company, has promised that these youth will be the ones to take the world into the future.

Demarcus has a secret. He races cars—literally. Ever since his leg injury, Demarcus has been testing the limits of his new super speed. Able to match a sports car on the highway, he wonders where this gift came from. Finding himself invited to the Launch Conference comes as a surprise, but not one he plans on turning down. The only problem is the kindly old custodian who has him questioning everything he’s experiencing.

Lily has suffered incredible loss and is simply trying to make a new life for herself in California. The Launch Conference is a fabulous way to get away from the pressures she’s under, especially from her friend turned enemy, Missy. Something is happening to her, too, but she hasn’t figured it out. When she produces a blinding flash during a near-accident at play practice, she’s left only with tingling fingers and lots of questions.

Will the Launch Conference help Demarcus, Lily, and their new friends figure out the strange things they are able to do? Or is something far more nefarious happening?

As one who doesn’t normally gravitate to the superhero genre, I had my doubts before picking up Launch. Expecting a typical origin story and final showdown, I was pleasantly surprised at Joyner’s fresh take on teens with powers. The characters were relatable—I mean the scary relatable where all the trauma of high school comes back to you while you’re reading. Teenagehood is difficult enough without having to remember not to burn the soles of your shoes off while you run or accidently teleport yourself into traffic.

The other aspect I appreciated was the villain of the story. Joyner stayed away from the comic book stereotype with the hand-wringing, mustache-twirling evil nemesis of our main characters. We are given a far more complicated antagonist whose motivations only deepen as the story continues.

Readers who love superheroes or who are looking for a fresh series that keeps them reading (seriously, I read this book very quickly) will love this book.

The book is clean. No sex. No language. Violence is minimal and never graphic. Characters consider romance, but it is not acted upon. Faith elements are present, through whispered prayers and the clear Christian worldview of one character. However, the book avoids becoming preachy or allowing the faith elements to take from the story.

I would recommend Launch to readers pre-teen and up. This book was a lot of fun. Oh, and it's the first of a series, so the fun isn't over.

Available on Amazon or through your local bookseller (support local business when you can!).

No disclaimer. I did not receive anything from the author, nor was I requested to write this review.


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