Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Vs. Reality by Blake Northcott

Title: Vs. Reality
Author: Blake Northcott
Published: July 25 2011

What would you do if you suddenly became the ideal version of yourself?

That's the question 27 year old Donovan Cole has to answer in Blake Northcott's Vs. Reality.

Donovan is a mixed martial arts fighter, or actually more like an ex-mixed martial arts fighter. He was undefeated until one loss seriously messed up his head. Now he's not so much fighting as taking beatings regularly in hopes of gaining his confidence back, his fighting spirit.

Then he meets Dia Davenport.

Ten minutes with her and he's being attacked in a back alley by a couple of shady men who mean business. With no way out and Dia to protect, Donovan does the impossible. He transforms from his normal lean, wiry build into a man comparable in size to the Hulk. Suddenly he's the guy he always wanted to be, always thought he could be. And he's more powerful than he could have ever imagined.

But he's not the only one.

Dia also transforms, creating a portal in thin air and transports them back to the safety of her penthouse apartment.

Soon Dia's introducing Donovan to some of her friends and guess what? Yeah, they all have unbelievable powers, same as Donovan. Dia can rip holes in space and time. Her sister, Paige, can melt metal into a puddle. And the lovable stoner/genius roommate, Brodie, has telekinesis. And they all use little blue pills called Muse to manifest these abilities whenever they want.

On top of finding out that there are humans out there with superpowers, Donovan also discovers that there is an entire agency called the Basement out to get people like him. People who can manifest are dangerous, or so they say, and must be vaccinated to make them normal again. But the Basement isn't exactly what they claim and Donovan will do anything in his power to stop them.

With a little help from his new friends, and his new ability, he might just have enough power to actually succeed.

I'm not going to lie, the first couple chapters of this book didn't catch my attention. They were beautifully written, I felt as if I were reading a comic book. I pictured each new paragraph as an illustration. But I was slightly confused, because the book opens, not with the main character, but with the bad guys. What interesting bad guys they are, but nothing was explained. I was thrown right into the action and had no idea what was going on. And when we do finally meet the main character in Chapter 2 it's in a dream. It's not the real Donovan Cole, but his ideal version of himself.

Personally, I like the real Donovan Cole much better. Once I reached Chapter 3 I was officially hooked. Donovan is a sweet guy who just wants to be the best at what he does. He takes beating after beating in the ring just hoping he'll one day be that guy he yearns to be.

Then there's Dia. She was awesome from the first moment she showed up in Donovan's life. She's a badass chick with some really cool superpowers. Who doesn't love a girl like that? She just wants to live her life and protect her sister from The Basement. She wants freedom, but freedom to Dia means something else entirely considering she can tear a hole in space and basically go wherever she wants whenever she wants.

But with all great power comes consequences. And Donovan, Dia and the rest are no exception. Whenever they manifest it's like an adrenaline rush. A high that they just can't quit. The more they manifest the harder it becomes to do it again, so they need to do more to make it happen. They're addicted.

I have to say that Jens, Donovan's (completely normal) best friend, was my favorite character. He was like the hilarious side kick who gets caught up in this situation that's so out of his league and comes along for the ride anyway. He cracked me up whenever he was around.

Northcott's writing style intrigued me. I don't read comics and have only read a few graphic novels, so I'm not used to their format, but I felt like I was reading one. I could picture every scene, every movement, like it was laid out in panels on a page in front of me. Towards the end of the book, when the story really got going, I started thinking that Vs. Reality would probably make a really great action movie. Something along the lines of all the superhero movies that have come out over the past few years. I felt it would translate perfectly onto the big screen.

The only real criticism I have is that the story was short so there wasn't much time to get really in-depth with the characters. But there is a sequel coming soon that I'm hoping will give us some more insight into their lives before and after everything that happened in the first book.

Once I got into it, Vs. Reality was a really good read. It was fast paced and filled with action. If your squeamish about blood and gore you might want to pass on this one though. There are some serious action movie scenes in here (ex. smashing a guys skull into a brick wall in the first chapter) and it's not for the faint of heart. But if you love comic books and/or superheroes you will love Vs. Reality.


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