I was kindly sent an ebook copy of this novel courtesy of @bed.and.books & @inspiredpress in exchange for an honest review.
Something a little different today 🙂
Introducing the first hero in the IXI Comics series: Specular! The newest and probably most original superhero to have been introduced in the modern age.
BLURB: This novel is of the fantasy/superhero fiction genre and tackles some important implications of mental health and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Imagine being afraid to fall asleep in fear that you will not wake up to the life you know. This is exactly what Tre Moon experienced at nine years old. He awakes to his second dissociative identity having set his house aflame. With his home ruined and his parents murdered at his own hands, he is sentenced to trial for a life sentence. Young Tre Moon is forced to walk a path that will change his life forever. When seventeen year old Tre comes into contact with a prohibited substance called Colloidal Supersilver his life will change forever when he finds out he has the ability to change how light refracts from his body. His new powers come with new challenges to an already complicated life, having battled Dissociative Identity Disorder for the majority of his youth. Follow the origin story of IXI PRESS first hero as he becomes Indiana's newest vigilante, Specular! In a city full of crime, recession, drug underlords and other mysterious vigilante's, the legend of Tre Moon will unfold, all the while, his dark past tries to catch up with him...
I’m a sucker for superheroes but I haven’t read many (if any) superhero novels. So, when I was approached by @bed.and.books on Instagram, I took the opportunity right away. Not only was I intrigued by the superhero storyline, but I also wanted to see the way in which this novel treated Dissociative Identity Disorder (otherwise known as DID).
I am so happy to be writing my review about this book because there is so much I want to talk about and it all starts with the part of the blurb that caught my attention in the first place: the implication that the story contained a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
Now, I love to learn about mental illnesses that I have no prior knowledge in and DID has been something I have been looking up and watching on YouTube for a while. From creators like DissociaDID and TeamPinata who are both really interesting systems with such a diverse range of alters, I have learnt about the disorder and their opinions on the portrayal of their disorder in the media.
I would actually really love to know what someone with DID or a medical professional thinks about this novel (and I’ll be reading reviews after I post my own) in order to truly understand how it was portrayed within the novel.
Storyline & Writing
I was worried that throughout the start of the novel, the disorder was being portrayed wrongly and just a way to explain the evil voice inside Tre Moon’s head. But as I powered on through the novel and found that Tre Moon himself was just as doubtful of his own diagnosis.
If there is anything perfect in Specular, it is the author’s writing style. It may not be for everyone but I loved it! All the long and detailed descriptions of places and characters really made the entire reading experience feel immersive.
The background we received when the story placed us in a new location along with the description of the place (and people Tre encountered along the way) made me feel as if the details of the story were being painted behind my eyelids with every word I read.
Although, one bother I had in regards to the storyline was how it felt a little disjointed at times, sometimes feeling rushed or as if there was a piece missing between two scenes.
Characters & Character Development
Tre Moon was used to keeping his head down, thriving on his own and making sure no one knew who he was lest his second-chance at life be jeopardised. That was until a forced group assignment in his extra-curricular physics group changed all of this.
His group is made up of the outcasts of the class. The rich-kid-player-boy, smart-girl-activist from out of town, and quiet-boy-hasn’t-spoken-to-anyone-in-class-Tre. Now call me a sucker for a lil mismatched group of outcasts forced together with group work but I freaking love that trope!
After some events transpire, including a close call with a very expensive research element, Tre Moon is suddenly filled with great power of which the source must be kept a secret. He confides in his group, who just so happen to become his closest friends and allies and over the course of the story, the three of them try to uncover the reason for Tre’s new abilities. Furthermore, trying understand how and why all of it is possible.
In turn, the three of them end up with a group name and thus, the ‘golden trio’ trope exists within this story and I freaking love it! It was such a natural transition, I have to applaud the author for his excellent writing.
I wasn’t sure how the superhero aspect of the story was going to play out within the novel, but when it did… Damn… It’s been a long time since we’ve had an original superhero with a unique suit and unique powers.
As dedicated physics students, the trio worked together tirelessly to understand the complex science behind Tre’s powers. Throughout the novel, I geeked out with them as explanations of his powers were explained, talking about light absorption and projection. And though I don’t know a single thing about physics, I was able to follow along just fine, feeling like I was learning something sciency from a fictional story.
The characters were deep, motivated and had clear goals and objectives they wanted to achieve, individual of Tre’s storyline. These objectives and goals just worked around their friendship with Tre Moon and their physics group.
I really appreciated that each character had their own goals and objectives, but that these goals and objectives linked into the broader happenings of the city. It made them feel individual, able to live their own lives and juggle their commitments but also connected to the story in more ways than their relationship with the protagonist.
The end of the story took a really crazy turn that introduced Tre’s denial of his DID diagnosis. I didn’t want the story to cure his DID or treat it as something horrible – since many people live with it and deserve to see themselves respected in works of fiction. In some way I was glad it was being denied and also questioned.
The fight scenes were epic! As I said, I haven’t read superhero novels, but I do read lots of fantasy and Tre’s fight with the ‘villain’ of the story was really really fun to read, especially since they were almost matched in strength and power.
The entire story came together really well in the end, concluding on a cliffhanger that actually has left me really excited for the second novel in the series. I believe it focuses on another superhero, an intriguing character that made her mysterious debut in this novel.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book a ★★★★☆ (3.75/5 stars) because the writing was amazing, immersive and although the story felt a little disjointed at times, it all came together magnificently in the end.
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