CHILDS, Tera Lynn & . 304p. Sourcebooks Fire. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492616573; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781492616580.
Gr 7–10—Even though she doesn't have a superpower herself, Kenna has grown up immersed in superhero culture. After a group of villains break into her mother's lab, Kenna's outlook on the superhero world starts to unravel as she realizes that the do-gooders she has always admired are engaging in malicious deeds. Now she must work with the most unlikely of characters (villians!) in order to set things right. There is no shortage of action as this band of teenagers tries to sneak into several well-guarded facilities, but unfortunately other aspects of the novel don't hold together as well. Characters such as Kenna's rebellious best friend "Rebel" and her "dark-and-scowly" love interest are not very original or well developed. While teens in these situations may spend a lot of time arguing about what next step to take, too much of the novel is spent on the characters' bickering. The major theme explored here is the thin line between good and evil, and while there is an interesting parallel that can be drawn to the current actions of U.S. government organizations, most of Kenna's narrative is lacking in subtlety. With a cliff-hanger ending and plenty of dangling threads, there is ample opportunity for a sequel. Marie Lu's The Young Elites (Putnam, 2014) offers a more nuanced portrait of young superheroes and Cory Doctorow's Little Brother (Tor, 2008) presents a better glimpse into corrupt government behavior.
VERDICT Fans of fast-paced action and superhero books may enjoy this, but readers looking for more complexity should search elsewhere.

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