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Black and White by Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittridge
Review by Harriet Klausner
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553386318
Date: 23 June 2009 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The world needs superheroes or as they are called the extra-humans. The Academy is where they receive intense training because crime is rampant and people with powers provide a service by stopping the thugs; that is why the extra-humans are in high demand. Five years after graduating from the Academy, Joannie "Jet" Greene and Callie "Iridium" Bradford are playing a cat and mouse game with each other. Jet wants to capture Iri who left the Academy and now deals with the underworld, a crime that the Academy and the Corps need to punish. Jet and Iri have always had beliefs about the Academy and the Corps that were radically and bitterly different.

They met a decade ago when they are assigned as roommates. Although polar opposites, they became best friends until Jet said something that angered her roomie about extra-humans being public figures having sponsors who pay for their services. Iri sees something dark and malignant below the surface image that the Corps presents to the public.

Jet uses shadows for her power while Iri uses light. Jet is an orphan because shadow users go insane while Iri's father is in jail for revealing truths about the extra-humans. Despite their differences, their friendship was beautiful to behold because Iri went out of her way to protect the frantic Jet. A misunderstanding ended their being BFFs, but they made up although Jet ignores Iri's opinion about the Corps' mind games with extra-humans and customers. A decade later, each wants to destroy the other even though they miss one another and humanity needs both sides of the spectrum to prevent a catastrophe that could change the dynamics of humanity.

Good and evil; black and white; shadow and light; friend and enemy are in the surface descriptions of these polar opposites who need each other in a yin and yang way. This becomes clear to the readers, but is not as lucid to the former BFFs that between their extremes are grays and a host of pastels. Neither Jet nor Iri are absolutely good or evil; ironically it is the public who classifies both of them as the light feels safer than the shadow.

Jet teams up with normal human Bruce Hunter, uncovering a dangerous scheme which she believes Iri is part of; Iri teams up with vigilante Taser uncovering a dangerous scheme which she believes Jet is part of. Thus Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittridge sets up an apparent world encounter between the pairs. Borrowing from romance, thriller, science fiction, and superhero comic books, they create an original work starring intriguing characters.

The tale starts at hyperspeed and accelerates though the former BFFs own the story line as readers anticipate a showdown between the antagonists and beyond that preventing the disaster that seems imminent in New Chicago. Though the plot is somewhat thin albeit action-packed, readers especially fans of graphic comic books will appreciate the dispute between two former super friends.

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