June 17, 2019

Indie Superhero Summer, Jenn Recommends

Jenn Recommends: The Crashers by Magen Cubed - #IndieSuperheroSummer

Cover of “The Crashers” by Magen Cubed

This is a book that I owned for a long time before reading it, and that was a mistake. I should have read it immediately. I should have sat down and swallowed it whole the instant it was on my Kindle. To think of all the time I wasted, having this book in my library but not in my life… honestly, it’s a goddamn tragedy.

The Crashers is about five people who live in East Brighton City, the only survivors of an explosion that destroyed a commuter train. In the wake of this, as the bomber grows bolder and more aggressive, they discover they’ve developed superpowers (as one does), and eventually they decide they’re pretty much the only ones who can stop the terrorist from destroying their city. On the surface, this is a very basic superhero premise—five superpowered strangers, one madman hellbent on destruction—but in simplicity, there is elegance. Cubed doesn’t need to waste her time explaining complicated origins and dazzling us with overwrought technobabble. Instead, we can jump straight in to getting to know these characters in exquisite depth.

And oh, what characters they are. Each of them is rendered in such perfect detail. The nuance of their personalities and backstories leaps from the page, especially once we get further into the book and they start interacting with each other, their temperaments pinging against one another. Do you love nothing better than the delight of characters snarking and bantering back and forth, the whole thing underscored by a reluctant, burgeoning respect? Do you love found families who don’t seem like they should fit together, but somehow do? This book is for you. Bonus points for filling both her world and her main cast with a wide range of diverse backgrounds and personalities—off the top of my head, we get gay rep, bi rep, disability rep, as well as multiple characters of color, including some mixed-race representation. All of this just makes her world feel that much richer and more real.

This is without even touching on the writing itself, which is a joy all on its own. At each page, the prose was sharp and engaging, the dialog pitch-perfect. There isn’t a lot of really detailed description in this book, so I guess if that’s necessary for your enjoyment this might leave you wanting, but honestly most readers won’t even notice. What IS included is just enough to give you the picture without weighing down the narrative, which unfolds in such perfect order that it will leave you breathless. Every reveal of the plot felt both unexpected and inevitable, and I adored each deeper layer that was added to our understanding.

The only minor quibbles I have with the book center around pacing and timing, especially at the end as we reach the tensest point of the climax, and then the falling action that wraps everything up. I do wish the balance on some of that was shifted just a little, though none of the decisions were enough to ruin my enjoyment. I can already tell The Crashers is going to stick in my head for a long time. I can only hope that the sequels alluded to in the author bio actually do happen at some point, because oh my god, do I need more of these characters.

The Crashers

Cover of “The Crashers” by Magen Cubed

At 9:17 AM, a subway train crashed in East Brighton City. That was when everything changed.

Five survivors emerge from the accident: former detective Kyle Jeong; single mother Norah Aroyan; Afghanistan veteran Adam Harlow; the genius Clara Reyes; and the dying Bridger Levi. These five strangers walk away from the crash unscathed, only to realize the event has left each of them with strange new powers. As their city falls into chaos around them, they find themselves drawn into a story far more dangerous than they ever knew – and it will change their lives forever.

Death, undeath, superpowers, and apocalyptic visions. Welcome to East Brighton City – hope you survive.