I kind of love, and miss, the days when super heroes had to operate in the shadows. Before the big Marvel movies where everyone knows the super powered vigilante and they are this organized group that is basically just the world police. I like the idea of those super heroes like Spiderman, Batman, or hell, even the Incredibles, where the vigilantes aren’t allowed to operate openly, where they have to hide who they are, and their presence isn’t always welcomed by the police. Alter Ego has a lot of those themes, plus so, so much more! In this fast paced vigilante story, we have secret identities and organizations, generations of heroes, and a well-funded terrorist group opposite our heroes. Coupled with the powers and the gadgets, you have this struggle to balance the person along with the hero, of what it means to put on these different masks, and trying to figure out who the REAL person is, free of the secret identities, and what it means to be a hero; who exactly are the white hats when you operate outside of the law? For as awesome as the abilities were, it was those very real interpersonal struggles that this story presented that I gravitated toward the most.
I’ve read all of Swed’s books, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors because no matter what genre she’s writing in, what character we have the perspective of, she has this great talent of weaving in these very real struggles alongside her super powered characters or her far future scenarios. I really gravitated toward Nathan and Mary in this book because of those existential questions they faced. I LOVED that even though Mary doesn’t have super strength or invisibility, or any power actually, she was one of the best IO’s there was. Her gadgets and smarts can go to-to-toe with the most powerful baddie there was. It was awesome to have a main character who was powerful even without having powers, and I really appreciated that. I also resonated so much with Nathan’s desire to atone for the mistakes of his past, his desperation to be a part of the group that had such an impact on his life, to make a positive difference in the world. I loved these characters together, too. Their struggles to find a balance, to trust one another… it was a treat to watch.
All of Swed’s characters are well done, heck, I even really liked the attitude of one of the main villains! I won’t go so far as to say I liked him as a person, but I really enjoyed his character. And even though Eloise rubbed me the wrong way a lot, that seems to be by design and I love it when an author can make a character purposely unlikeable and then weave that into a type of redemption arc. I won’t say more than that to avoid spoilers because trust me, there are some crazy twists and turns, betrayals and reveals that I didn’t see coming but made perfect sense once they came into play. This book is a wild ride full of emotion and action—my favorite kind of adventure!
I will say that I thought there should have been a little more time on the abilities themselves and what they were, or how certain characters got them. There’s enough to kind of get it, but it always felt a little too mysterious for my personal tastes. I also would have liked to know more about Wave and LIO and their conflict and what the two sides actually believe in and were fighting for. It felt a bit vague, even toward the end, but I’m hoping that with how this book ended, all of that will become clearer in the sequel, but that’s why I am giving this 4 stars. Good thing the sequel is out already! Yay! I really enjoyed this book in what looks to be an exciting series. I highly recommend this to fans of super hero stories like Batman or Umbrella Academy, especially Umbrella Academy actually. And thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!
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