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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: Behind the Mask by Tricia Reeks (Ed.)

“…the only thing we love more than revering our heroes is destroying them.”
– Over an Embattled City by Adam R. Shannon

“There are people who say that anonymity lives and dies in the big city. Those people have never tried living in suburbia.”

“I wanted to explain that reality doesn’t matter, not really; not when image is for sale on every corner and beamed straight to every smartphone.”
– Pedestal by Seanan McGuire

“He looked like a sweetheart, but even when he tried to be gentle, he left bruises.”
– Origin Story by Kelly Link

I really don’t understand how the stories are selected for anthologies like this one… I am continually amazed at how uneven the quality is. I understand that everyone has different tastes, but even given that, I cannot see how one person could have liked all of the stories selected in this (or most) collection. Perhaps editors literally just put the word out about their topic (particularly when it’s an unusual and specific one, like this) and go first come, first served… That’s pretty much all I can imagine, because the quality of this collection is unbelievably uneven.

The topic is superheroes – but lest you think this is going to be a book abut X-Men or the latest Marvel movie teaser, let me clear something up right from the get-go: these superheroes (and super villains) suck. Or, rather, their lives do. I thought the “behind the mask” idea would be cool – I liked the concept, pointing out that the supers, like fairy tale princesses, were still fundamentally people (well, most of them), which would logically mean that their lives would have highs and lows like everyone else’s. But I guess I never really thought about the practical implications of that. They have issues with their secret identities and super powers, with their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions. They are dissatisfied and bored and irritable – they are, in short, utterly human. That should make them more appealing, but what it mostly just made them was annoying. It is, after all, no more enjoyable to listen to whining when it comes from someone with a mask and a cape than it is to listen to it from your neighbor or the clerk at the supermarket…

There were a few truly excellent and wholly original stories (Pedestal by Seanan McGuire, The Beard of Truth by Matt Mikalatos, Over an Embattled City by Adam R. Shannon) and a few more that were solidly good (As I Fall Asleep by Aimee Ogden, Meeting Someone in the 22nd Century or Until the Gears Stop Turning by Jennifer Pullen, Origin Story by Carrie Vaughn). But the vast majority were either boring or eye-roll inducing or just plain ridiculous (e.g., Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut by Cat Rambo – this is the opening story and was utterly nonsensical to me, and Kelly Link’s Origin Story, although my issue there may be with her, rather than this particular story – I find her to be a VERY eclectic and uneven author)

I really should learn my lesson with short story collections; with the VERY rare exception, I usually find them altogether too uneven for my taste. Still, there’s always at least one standout and I’m a sucker for the promise of that standout…

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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1 comment to Book Review: Behind the Mask by Tricia Reeks (Ed.)

  • Although they posture no direct physical risk, they take a toll on the menntal well being
    oof players. This illness is as eually crippling aas a dependency to drugs orr alcohol.

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