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This book has joined the very short list (1 other) of books that I just couldn't stomach finishing. The premise is ok, and even some of the concepts sound interesting. But the dialogue is mediocre, the characters seem rather shallow, and the interactions between characters are just plain hokey at times. It reads like something written by an alien whose only concept of how humans act comes from watching Saturday morning cartoons and the occasional soap opera. The narrator was decent and gets props for making the best of a bad situation.
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The Dark Souls” is a very clever Gateway novel for the Viral Superhero series by Bryan Cohen and Casey Lane. Generically it is science-fiction with aliens and multi-dimensional parallel worlds but some aspects are reminiscent of fantasy—such as a powerful sword and demonic possession.
One of the most enjoyable qualities of this book is its quirky humour and ironic tone. We see it in both plot and characters.
The characters are recognisable types that one meets in High School. There is Natalie Dorn the excelling athlete, the popular cheerleader Erica LaPlante with her worshipping acolytes, and her loyal best friend, Jennifer Norris, the sheriff’s daughter who dedicates herself to keeping her beautiful but “dumb as a post” pal within reasonable bounds. And of course there are the nasty school bullies.
All these characters go in very interesting directions. At one point Erica seems to be the anchor to a double love triangle—on one hand between Ted and Natalie and simultaneously between Dhiraj and Jennifer.
Fireworks in the offing?
Well, as is so often the case in this book, things just aren’t necessarily quite as they seem.
The writers have loads of fun playing with the super hero convention. Ted is not the typical super-hero and his sidekick, Dhiraj, can be something of a liability. Ted is a rather gentle person and has only limited use of his powers while his powerful nemesis, Nigel, has a witty kind of elegance. Then there is that great feature of most super heroes—a secret identity. which Ted doesn't have. He soon learns the problems that this disadvantage causes.
The plot is nicely patterned and paced and presented with a wink and smile. There are many unexpected twists and turns—particularly in the page-turning action that dominates the last quarter of the book. Of course there are some loose ends. Bur one expects that with six more books to come!
“The Telepath" is the second book in this series. Books whose plots develop over a sequence of volumes have challenges of a special kind. To begin, there must be an over-arching story arc which informs each novel in the group. The story arc in this case is cosmic in nature and provides a dramatic force which motivates the individual plot lines in all of the books. However, there must also be a “local” plot that has its own particular interest and which has a reasonably satisfactory resolution. Thus the volumes between the “gateway” volume and the finale all must, to a certain extent, have properties of a stand-alone novel and yet be sequential developments in a larger pattern. I think that the authors of this book have succeeded quite well in juggling the needs of the series and the specific book.
"The Telepath" is an interesting blend of science-fiction and fantasy. In fact it quite possibly qualifies as being in that mixed genre termed "Science fantasy".. As in fantasy there are visionary experiences quasi-demonic possessions and a battle between forces of Dark and Light. But the use of trained ESP and the background of a parallel universe is more like the plot machinery used in science fiction.
The themes are significant. The book explores such topics as Power, choice, responsibility and identity. And if the issues are sometimes dark, there are always touches of humour to engage the reader.
Now we come to “The Candidate" the third book in the Viral Superhero series. As with its predecessors, the emphasis is on page-turning action effectively plotted. The general tone continues to have an ironic slant with reminders of an underlying cruelty.
What may annoy some readers is the fact that the novel ends with a cliffhanger. But that is a device that can be used very effectively. "The Princess of Mars" by Burroughs does exactly that. In fact the following novel, "The Gods of Mars" does the same forcing the reader to wait until "Warlords of Mars" finally concludes the sequence. Each cliffhanger introduced significant developments in setting and character. The cliffhanger in "The Candidate" also ushers in a major development in setting, characters and conflict. So far, this series has been exciting and interesting and the reader can look forward to more excitement and enjoyment.