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Shades of Gray (Icarus Project, Book 2) by Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittridge
Cover Artist: Kathleen Lynch, based on photographs Blend Images / Veer (woman with  cape) and Vlad Arseniev
 / iStockphoto (skyscraper)
Review by Steve Sawicki
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553386325
Date: 22 June 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

This is the second book in the series. I did not read the first book and seemed to get through this one okay so it's probably safe to say you will as well. Jet and Iridium are former friends who are now enemies who must team up again to try to save the city from the rogue super heroes that have turned against the city of New Chicago.

Seems the superheros were created through genetic manipulation and are 'owned' by a corporation which got a bit scared by what they had done and so found a way to do mind control on the heroes through the use of a ever on transmitter which beamed controlling messages directly to their brains. Now the transmitter is broken and the super heroes have fulfilled those fears by going on a rampage.

Who is left to save the city? The team that inadvertently destroyed the transmitter. In between the beginning and the end there's a prison break, much mayhem, some ironic asides, the telling of the history through chapter headings, and enough of a plot to keep it all moving forward.

If you like comics you will like this. It's written more or less on a comic level, light on logic and heavy on destruction and tilted to the good guys regardless of how strong the bad guys really are. You'll root for the good guys because the bad guys aren't really developed all that well as characters and because that's what you are supposed to do. This is fine. There's some fun stuff in there too to keep it interesting. One of the challenges, no doubt, was just in coming up with enough super hero names for the more than three dozen (could be more, could be a bit less, but there's a lot) in the book. The other unusual thing is that this book is written by two people who wrote from a character perspective each, essentially flipping each chapter. They did a good job in maintaining voice and in keeping details coherent. Occasionally you can tell who is who but not often.

I found the book interesting if light reading. It's a fast read as well. And entertaining. I think Kessler and Kittridge did a pretty good job in making their concept work. I think there's lots of room for more material and lot's of areas they could have explored that they did not. Certainly the interplay between hero and non-hero thought is something they played with that they could have done more with as well. Overall the book is what it is--a comic book brought to trade. If you go in with that knowledge then you'll come out pretty happy. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes comics or superheros.

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