What if one day you woke up with the ability to fly or to run incredibly fast? This is what happens to five college friends in Madison, Wisconsin. Suddenly they have the separate abilities of super strength, super speed, invisibility, and telepathy. Initially, they do nothing, some freaked out by the powers they have gained, or some don’t want to share the secret with others. Soon though they decide to try and be a force for good even if it means going outside the law. It doesn’t take long however before the consequences of their powers begin to take it’s toll.
Anyone expecting a book about superheroes fighting supervillains will be disappointed with Superpowers. This book is about how ordinary people would deal and react to suddenly developing extraordinary abilities. The lack of a main plot means that the book seems to drag and meander at times, however, the character development is nicely done. I was a little concerned about how the events of September 11th would be incorporated into the story, but Schwartz handled it well, incorporating it into the bittersweet ending.
One thing I liked about how Schwartz wrote this book is that he not only described how superpowers could be used for good, but also the impact of having such powers might have on human bodies and minds that were never meant to handle them. Most people would love to have super strength, but how many have thought about how difficult it might be to no longer know your own strength and be a danger to those around you. How could one stay sane with no way to block all of the thoughts and emotions of those you? Perhaps having such abilities is not fantastic as everyone thinks it might be.
While Superpowers reads a little bit like the Teen Justice League with a “narrator” that comes off as a paranoid schmuck, it is a good book about the wonders and dangers of superpowers. Recommended.