by J.D. Wright
Genre: Upper YA Paranormal/Superheroes
Release Date: August 15th 2017
Vada’s To-Do List:
- Turn 18 (check!)
- Register super name
- Order supersuit
- Attend superhero indoctrination
- Graduate high school
- Start kicking criminal tail
Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.
Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?
Somehow, with the help—and hindrance—of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.
No one ever said that being a superhero was easy…
Since discovering she has a knack for writing, J.D. has so far written and self-published eight books of the Everealm and Songs of Everealm Series and is now venturing into the world of paranormal with her new superhero-themed series. She is an avid reader and lover of all things romance so she always includes a good love story in her paranormal and fantasy novels.
I loved JD Wright's Everealm series, so I couldn't wait to get started with her new one. I'm not as big a fan of urban/contemporary as I am traditional fantasy, but ... come on, it's JD Wright, so I was pretty sure I was going to love her new series too. It's obvious from page one how much the author loved writing this. No wallowing in misery or making the characters suffer. It's light hearted and so much fun to read, which is one of the things I love so much about her books.
JD Wright's writing has developed since Everealm (no criticism - I loved Everealm), and Masked is very well written. The world building is nicely done, with details about supers and how they fit into society (think The Incredibles!) woven discreetly through the story rather than presented as infodumps. As always, there's plenty of girl power on display from the super-powered ladies too!
I was pleasantly surprised that there was no insta-love between Vada and her high school's resident hot guy, Nick. Even better, there was no actual relationship between them (I get the feeling JD Wright is saving that for book two!) or cases where he rode in on a white horse to save her. The constant bickering between their alter egos, Magestic and Orion, felt a bit forced after a while, and I did have to wonder how this pair didn't work out each others superhero identities given how much times they spent together in and out of costumes. A mask over your eyes just doesn't seem enough to conceal your identity!
The supporting characters were great across the board, with Vada's tech support James standing out. Theirs was a refreshing male-female relationship without a hint of flirting or sexual tensions. You wouldn't believe it from many books/movies/tv shows etc, but this does happen in real life! As well as keeping her safe, James is all about setting Vada up on her missions and making sure her supersuit is as fabulous as it is functional.
One notable exception to the great supporting characters for me though was Vada's best friend Henley. Simple put: Henley is an idiot. Aside from being as dumb as a box of rocks, she's rude to and dismissive of Vada, her supposed best friend, and things don't get much better once she becomes a super. She takes a drug from local dealer Victor without knowing what it is, then does the same thing again later with his father Marticus after he calls her weak with the line; "I'm not weak. I will take your drug." *facepalm* That type of reverse psychology wouldn't work on my six year old niece. Henley's newly-acquired superpower of persuasion works on some and not others as plot requires, but using it to score free purses at the mall seems less than supervillain behaviour. There always seems to be one character in the pack that rubs me up the wrong way, and in this series, it's Henley! The conflict for Vada of having to fight her best friends is deliciously intriguing, but I'd like to have seen more of this. There's so much that could be done with this plot thread in the next book!
Character issue aside though, Masked is a great start to a new series. It sets the groundwork nicely for future books, and wraps up this story nicely while still leaving plenty of places for future stories to go. If Masked reminded me of The Incredibles, I think Masked #2 will be more Monsters University!