By Cynthia Bujnicki
In Abby’s world, superheroes are real, and one of them just so happens to be her big brother. However, when another masked individual comes and saves her, Abby is conflicted because her hero is none other than the city’s villain, Iron Phantom. Or maybe not. Maybe he is not as evil as everyone claims; maybe he is just trying to be a hero as best he can. All Abby knows is that something is going on in Morriston and she has to figure out just who to trust before everything falls apart.
What an amazing book. The Supervillain and Me is an excellent novel for comic book fans everywhere, but it is also for people who love the superhero genre. Why? Because it has such a perfect balance of realism and wonder to tell the story. It is not traditional in the way that it tells the story to focus on the superhero doing their superhero thing, it is about Abby, a normal girl who wants to get through the day and land the lead part in the musical. That is why the story is relatable to the reader because it has a grounding factor in following Abby on her day to day adventures. She lives in a crime-ridden city where the crime rates keep getting higher and higher. Even having two superheroes is not doing much to keep the city safe, even heroes have their limits, and they can only be in one place at a time. So, seeing the world through Abby’s perspective is fresh, it is realistic, and it is relatable. The fear she feels, the tension and anxiety she has about going out at night alone is something readers can relate to, and that is what makes the novel stand out. It follows an average person in a world where superheroes are real.
The realism is vital in making this story work, and the characterization that brings Abby to life is a big part of that. She is a strong character, capable and thoughtful. Abby has questions, but her mindset keeps her from asking them, and her internal struggle, it keeps the tension on the page. Abby’s brother is a superhero, but she is fraternizing with a person who is being labeled by the media as a villain, someone who claims to go to the same school as her. So following her internal struggle, to see her battle herself internally and make the decisions she makes, it is something interesting that unfolds throughout the story.
Now, realism and characterization aside, there is also the pace of the novel. Admittedly it starts very slow and almost looks as if the story is going to be going in a completely different direction than it ultimately does. The opening is where Banas uses her time wisely to do some world building and character establishment. After the first couple of chapters, the pacing of the novel begins to pick up, and the direction of the novel becomes clearer. Banas does an excellent job of slipping in historical context into the novel as the story goes on that way the story maintains the pace while also solidifies the character dynamics and history of the characters. By slipping in these details, Banas allows for some exciting plot development to unfold. The reader is just as eager as Abby to figure out whom Iron Phantom is and looking at the clues, well, let us say it gives the reader something to think about. Banas does this very well, making sure to not give anything away until the right moment.
Overall, this was an excellent novel. It was funny, it was fresh, and even a bit romantic without getting too explicit. There are light kissing and hand-holding leading to some very tender moments between characters. The fact remains this is a new fresh perspective in the superhero genre for young readers that has the charm and action to keep the reader entertained.