Title: After Vertigo
Author: Amanda Meuwissen
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Genre(s): Superhero, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Page Count: 194
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
In a flash, the world changed. A solar flare—later dubbed Vertigo—activated the DNA of more than half the world’s people, granting them special abilities. Brilliant scientist Benjamin Krane might be Powerless, but his inventions are the only thing giving the police a fighting chance against super-powered evil. Ben doesn’t have much of a life beyond work, and when he gets wind of a robbery one evening, he decides to test his newest invention personally….
A thief, rogue, and shameless flirt, Grey Miller—aka the Streak—likes shiny things, but he doesn’t hurt people. When Ben catches him—and proposes they team up against the real bad guys—Grey doesn’t know whether it’s the offer or the man he can’t resist. But one thing’s for sure—they’re an ideal match in more ways than one.
With a psychotic supervillain’s catastrophic plan moving forward and everyone he cares about in danger, now might not be the best time for Ben to give in to Grey’s seduction, no matter how tempting. Grey is a man of secrets, and if Ben wants a future with him, he’ll have to learn to trust Grey—and himself.
This is an interesting story because it doesn’t quite fit into the category it at first seems to be. The style of writing, the subject matter and the characters all suggest that this is a young adult story. It is not promoted as such and certainly the closing scenes are sufficiently explicit to question this. Nevertheless, the language used is simple and approachable with a plot that is full of activity. Written in the third person it largely describes the story from the point of view of the lead character. Characterisation is fine, with clear delineation of roles and backgrounds. Whilst there are areas of interest about each of the lead roles, each is described quite lightly and it is quite difficult to feel anything for the characters.
The concept of super heroes amongst us is not a new one, but how this situation comes to be is. As the story unfolds, this backstory becomes more relevant and adds some interesting opportunities for plot development. The focus of the story is on a single city but there is reference to this phenomenon being world wide, but always coming back to this location as leading the way. It would have been better had more been made of this as for much of the book it always feels as though this location was chosen merely as a relevant instance of the phenomenon. The super powers are consistently presented as something to be misused and it is unclear why this is the case, which makes the story quite one-sided.
Given the lightness of the writing, it does not bear a lot of digging into it. The story should be taken at face value if it is to work for the reader. This approach reinforces the young adult fantasy feel of the book.
The relationship between the two central characters is largely consistent throughout and there is no real growth on one side is a weakly developed fear of social situations and on the other is seemingly infinite patience and tolerance with flirtation thrown in to spice things up. When the change occurs it is not subtle. The fact that this is then tied in to the big reveal of the story should have made it far more than it was. The sex is described at length and with some accuracy, but without any real investment in the characters, it is somewhat lacking.
The plot as a whole benefits from a number of little twists throughout where unknowns are revealed and this throws the story in a different direction. These drive the story forward along with action points that are well structured but lack much tension. Risks are faced throughout by the lead character, these affect the safety of himself and others. It is unclear how such a social isolate can do this, but once again it begs a question that shouldn’t really be asked.
The story ties up neatly in the end and the obvious themes are resolved to allow for a happily ever after. This ending does allow the author to take the characters forward into a different adventure, but there are no clear cliffhangers or leads, so this may well be a stand-alone story.