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Powerless by Matthew Cody
labandbooks
proseandkahn
If the cover doesn't make you want to grab the book and hole up for uninterrupted reading time, then flip to the back cover and read Jonathan Stroud's blurb, "This book has a superpower-you can't put it down." Still not convinced? Here's the synopsis from the publisher,

     "Twelve-year-old Daniel, the new kid in town, soon learns the truth about his nice—but odd—new     friends: one can fly, another can turn invisible, yet another controls electricity. Incredible. The superkids use their powers to secretly do good in the town, but they’re haunted by the fact that the moment they turn thirteen, their abilities will disappear—along with any memory that they ever had them. Is a memory-stealing supervillain sapping their powers?"

There's something for everyone here, a perfectly ordinary and likable main character, a friend who's a girl who takes no crap, as well as action, mystery, and unexpected twists. Did you ever wonder what would happen if the X-Men or the Fantastic Four teamed up with Sherlock Holmes? Matthew Cody manages to combine a briskly driven plot with characters that are familiar without being cardboard cut-outs. The "Supers" are a tightly knit group bound together not only because their superhero status sets forces them to be outsiders, but with the grim knowledge that the bonds they forge will be severed one by one, as each turns thirteen. Warily, they allow Daniel into their circle, hoping that he will help them find a way to break the third rule that states, "It ends at thirteen." Daniel is keenly aware of his outsider status as new kid and while he is thrilled to be a part of the Supers, he also realizes that he really can't truly be part of this group.

Themes of friendship, loyalty, heroism, right and wrong, rule-following vs. rule-breaking and good and evil will make for lively discussion and I can't wait to suggest this to the book group of fifth and sixth graders that my public library counterpart and I run. It's a cool genre-blender as well, combining realistic fantasy with an almost unbearably suspenseful mystery. Daniel is a Sherlock Holmes fan and enjoys solving mysteries. He uses his powers of observation and deduction in order to come to the aide of his friends. Like his literary hero, he also falls for some red herrings and just might meet his own real life, Moriarity. 

Let me just say that I loved the ending. I read the last 75 pages in a frenzy. About 25 pages into them, I literally had to stop, close the book and remind myself to breathe. Then I plunged back in for a final dash to the absolutely surprising, mind-bending ending.

This is an awesome debut novel and will not be a shelf sitter.

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