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Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got…
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Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen

by Richard Roberts

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Penny’s career as a supervillain is in jeopardy with parental interference – but there’s a more complex battle happening at school. More and more of Penny’s contemporaries are deciding to be open with their super powers. A club is formed – and of course Penny is picked to lead it

But this points to a whole cultural shift for the city as people are now wearing their powers openly, the more alien super-powered beings are now able to be join the community and it comes with a whole lot of more complex questions: like who these kids want to be and what it actually means to be a super powered being

This book seems to be covering a lot more serious issues than the previous two – it has grown up a bit from the previous incarnations of the story.

When Penny started to gather a huge fanclub following of fellow superhero kids at school, I wondered if the Infernal Machine was going to become an army.

But, it was deeper than that. It instead used all of these kids to ask a lot of difficult questions and broaden the world beyond being just a zany setting of hilarious, almost comical superhero/villain fights

Like what goes into the choice of whether to become a superhero or a supervillain? Which do these kids want to be? Why? It may seem simple but then we see Marcia, poor, tortured, ill Marcia who speaks out of the perfection and repression that comes with heroism. We see kids who have powers that aren’t pretty and just don’t fit neatly into hero themes – including heroes rejecting their superpowered kids because their powers are “thematically” wrong

And what about those kids who do have super powers that just don’t lend themselves to combat? Not ever super power is actually an ideal battle ability. Nor is every altered form ideal for fighting – the kid who looks like they’re made of living glass may be intimidating and kind of awesome, but they’re also waaay too brittle to be involved in combat. In between the super powered fighting, the kids learning to use their powers, the kids all learning the rules of the world they’re in there’s a lot of looking at what it really means to be a super powered kid.

There’s those kids whose powers change their appearance – how many of them have to be home schooled because they’re considered to be too alien to actually be part of the community? How many kids dye their hair or cover their skin to hide some non-human feature? And, as the super power club grows, how much does the culture change that more and more of them stop hiding

Yes, there’s a hefty analogy there. And I’d be much much happier about this hefty, not-subtle analogy if the single LGBT character in this story wasn’t revealed petty much in the epilogue. There isn’t any representation here, which is more than a little annoying (there is a pair of “heterosexual life partners who aren’t lesbian honest”… and I have no idea what is even being attempted here. Just no).

On top of all this we also have the question of super powered people who don’t WANT to fight. Who can actually see a way to use their super powers to the greater benefit of all that doesn’t involve battling other super powered people. Which also comes with the touching story of Claudia, her family and her own struggle with being both immensely powerful, able to help so many – but not WANTING to be a hero.

Claudia is also a recurring POC in the book and it’s a nice touch to see her story expanded beyond what we’ve seen so far. The gathering of super hero kids also has several POC characters among them. But I still hate Chinatown – whyyy do we have the villainous area of the city be China town? Especially since there are no actual Chinese people in this Chinatown! The name is redundant.

We do have two disabled characters – two mentally ill characters in the form of Marcia and Abigail. I’m leery about both of them. Both see them using medication and dealing with their illnesses in different ways. But at the same time they are also depicted as dangerous, unstable and a threat – which is such a common trope.

Of course this all returns to our three heroes, Penny, Claire and Ray and the question – what do they want? This touches back to the eternal question hero vs villain but also goes far more as they work on solo identities and examine their own motivations

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Mar 14, 2016 |
I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for an e-ARC of this book to review. Though I received this e-book for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review.

Goodreads Teaser: "What would middle school be like if half your classmates had super powers? It's time for Penny Akk to find out. Her latest (failed) attempt to become a superhero has inspired the rest of the kids in her school to reveal their own powers.

Now, all of her relationships are changing. She has a not-so-secret admirer, who wants to be Penny's partner almost as much as she wants to be Penny's rival. The meanest girl in school has gained super powers and lost her mind. Can Penny help her find a better one? Can she help an aging superhero connect with his daughter, and mend the broken hearts of two of the most powerful people in the world? And in all this, where will she find the time for her own super villainous fun, or even more dangerous, to start dating?

It's going to be a long, strange semester."

Penny's zany adventures continue, often with the help of her besties Claire and Ray. Along with Penny, Claire and Ray are the rest of The Inscrutable Machine, which is the name of their supervillain alter ego. When operating as The Inscrutable Machine Penny's name is Bad Penny, Claire's is E-Claire, and Ray's is as Reviled. Ray is also Penny's boyfriend, adding just that much more to her ever expanding, not to mention evermore confusing, world.

As badly as Penny still wants to be a superhero, it seems she's stuck being a supervillain for the time being. But in the interim Penny is suddenly leading their newly expanded club for kids whose parents have superpowers. All of their new members have superpowers of their own, and are beyond eager to be out in the open about it for the first time in their young lives. And for some reason, everyone wants to duel Penny! Yet her parents have expressly forbidden it. What's a supervillain to do? In Penny's case, apparently several things. But her action with the greatest impact is reuniting retired supervillain Bull with his wife and daughter, which starts some sort of strange chain reaction.

Now Penny must balance her time with Claire and Ray, school, the club and all it entails, as well as The Inscrutable Machine. If she thought leading a double life was hard, she's in for a shock now that she's got many more aspects of her life to juggle; especially for those she must keep hidden or risk losing everything. It's all these tasks that allow Penny to really grow as a character. Indeed, both Claire and Ray also grow, which somewhat alters the relationship between the three friends, as one would expect. Luckily none of the changes are for the worse, though there is one possible change that I felt was far to soon to be realistically considered. Who knows if we'll see that change come to fruition, or even if this book marks the end of the series. It certainly felt like could go either way.

While this story didn't have the wildness that the last one had, there were still plenty of learning, life altering, and just plain fun, moments to be had for all. Between dealing with the normal challenges of growing up, these kids also face the additional, and possibly harder challenges that come with having superpowers. Especially learning to control their powers long before reaching true emotional maturity. It leads to many an entertaining situation, each of which had an attached lesson. But as with the prior books, these lessons were blended well enough to naturally feel very much a part of the story, as opposed to feeling as if they were being forced upon the reader. And at the same time they added to the depth of the storyline, and helped keep the plot moving forward at a decent pace. Once again Mr. Roberts has managed to keep his characters' development moving forward right along with the plot, all while still keeping the storyline cohesive and fun. Nicely done sir, nicely done. ( )
  Isisunit | Feb 12, 2016 |
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What would middle school be like if half your classmates had super powers? It's time for Penny Akk to find out. Her latest (failed) attempt to become a superhero has inspired the rest of the kids in her school to reveal their own powers. Now, all of her relationships are changing. She has a not-at-all-secret admirer, who wants to be Penny's partner almost as much as she wants to be Penny's rival. The meanest girl in school has gained super powers and lost her mind. Can Penny help her find a better one? Can she help an aging supervillain connect with his daughter, and mend the broken hearts of two of the most powerful people in the world? And in all this, where will she find time for her own supervillainous fun, or even more dangerous, to start dating? It's going to be a long, strange semester.… (more)

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