Soon I Will be Invincible

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 1, 2009

Soon I Will be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Thirteen people gathered at A. T.’s house for this meeting. Our topic was Soon I Will Be Invincible, a first novel about superheroes and supervillains. Eight of us started the book, and five finished it.

One reader, a big comics fan, loved this book. She felt that Watchmen brought reality into comics, but this book brought comics into reality. She thought the characters felt real, and found that although some are physically invincible, none are invincible in their feelings.

Several people commented that the author was having great fun with superhero motifs. We liked how this book tries to reconstruct superheroes differently from Watchmen. The narrative alternating viewpoints between a hero and a villain was effective. And many of us found the book to be quite funny, particularly the opening sequence.

One person felt sympathy for both viewpoint characters. She felt that the author was working through his own middle school experiences in the sections dealing with the villain’s childhood. She liked the book’s appendix.

We noticed problems with the writing. One person got lost between narrative voices.  Another thought the ending did not deliver sufficient payoff. Several of us had pacing issues with the story.

One reader was greatly disappointed, and he struggled to find something good to say. He found it hard to empathize with any of the characters. He felt that the book was clearly supposed to be funny, but it did not make him laugh. He did like how the villain was already planning his next escape at the end.

Another generally enjoyed the book, but felt that the story was not that novel. He thought that many comic books of the 80s and 90s had already told stories of this type better.

Near the end, we talked about other prose fiction about superheroes. There were strong recommendations for the Wild Card books edited by George R. R. Martin and the Weird Heroes series edited by Bryon Preiss.

After the meeting, several of us had a nice dinner at Culver’s.

—A. T. Campbell, III