“…being a hero isn’t always about doing a wonderful thing.
Sometimes it’s about doing a horrible thing.”
– Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin
Reaver, aka Steve Clarke, heads back to his hometown of Greenway, Oregon, in large part to see Adele Layton, the girl he was madly in love with when he was a teenager and the girl he was dating at the time of his life-changing accident. Involved in a car accident with a tanker truck filled with a cocktail of industrial chemicals, Clarke was in a coma for weeks and when he eventually reawakened he was virtually indestructible – and had an incredible power. Whenever he punched someone, they lost a year of life!
Tobin tells Clarke’s story through the intertwining of past and present and in doing so creates an interesting dichotomy – one is an over-the-top thrill ride chronicling Reaver’s exploits with his allies against the members of Eleventh Hour and the other is an emotionally compelling, profoundly moving story about a guy who, at the end of his life, realizes that his entire existence has been empty – and that all of the people that he has ever truly loved are either dead or estranged.
Honestly, while the superhero element was obviously the focal point, I enjoyed the human story of Clarke much more – it was funny, sexy, bittersweet, and incredibly romantic.
But that said, man, there were some priceless one-liners in this novel – humorous, highly irreverent lines that I will guarantee you have never read anywhere before and will never read anywhere again!
• “I was lowering my lips to hers (and picturing images that would have sent a Satanic porn star to confessional)…”
• “… he looked like a gay templar...”
• “I was being sex-toyed to death.”
And concealed amidst all of the city-leveling action and adventure and off-color humor is some powerful social commentary, delivered with the intensity of a pair of Hulk Smash Fists:
“Somewhere out there, other worlds. Other civilizations. And we’re down here bitching about gas prices, fighting over scriptures, about skin color, sexual preferences, television shows.”
Prepare to Die! is laugh-out-loud funny but it’s also a heart-warming romance as well as a loving homage to all things superhero.
If you consider yourself a fan of superhero fiction, you really should put this novel on your “to read” list immediately – prepare to be blown away!
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!
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