From the February issue of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (which I’m pasting in its entirety since I can’t find it online elsewhere):
When his family moves to Noble’s Green, “The Safest Town on Earth,” to care for Daniel’s ailing grandmother, twelve-year-old Daniel is quite certain it is also the lamest town on Earth. That is, until he starts seeing the neighborhood kids perform some strange feats and he himself is saved from certain death by bully by his new friends’ superhuman speed and strength. Taken into the group’s confidence, Daniel learns that while the kids have seemingly unending talent now, they’ll all lose their abilities and any memory of their skills when they turn thirteen. Although as just a common dweeb he lacks any extraordinary powers, Daniel is convinced that he can save his friends from the horrific fate of normalcy, and he employs some serious detective skills to uncover the shadowy menace that robs the preteens of their abilities. Cody’s debut novel pays homage to the great Golden Age comics at every turn, from the kids’ various super skills to the maniacal bad guy driven by envy and greed. High-flying action aside, however, the heart of this story lies with Daniel, an Everykid faced with the very real obstacles offitting in, negotiating friendships with the opposite sex, and losing a loved one. His relationship with his dying grandmother is particularly poignant, and fortunately the author respects young readers enough to not provide a superhero fix but to realistically portray Daniel’s grief with both tenderness and restraint. The mystery surrounding the origins of the superpowers adds a bit of intrigue, giving this satisfjring and genre-blending read a broad appeal.
[T]here’s a lot of room out there for good middle grade chapter books about kids with super duper abilities. “Powerless” by Matthew Cody definitely fills that void, and ends up being a fun and original story about a kid who has to keep others from ending up like himself. You know. Normal.[...]
The best thing about the book is that it doesn’t settle on being one kind of story. Sure, it’s about superheroes, but it’s also a mystery. Daniel’s hero isn’t the mysterious Johnny Noble who started all this superheroism, but Sherlock Holmes. So kids with a thing for flying and invisibility will like the book, and so will kids who just want a good whodunit. “Powerless” ends up being one of those unassuming little chapter books that may find itself getting a strong fanbase all thanks to having something for everyone. A hoot.
I hope to have even more good news to share about Matt and Powerless in the near future. Stay tuned!
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