Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant
Going Through the Change is about four women who develop superhero powers via naturopathy and pseudo-science. Can you tell the problems I had with this book? There were lots of things to like about it as well, but this is one of those ‘you touched all the wrong spots’ books for me.
The book opens with Linda turning into a man. This scene is done well, and it stays on the light-hearted side of body transformations. Of course, I loved American Werewolf in London, so I clearly have a preference for gruesome body horror. If you’re a horror light-weight, this book should work well for you. All the powers and changes work on a lighter level, and the pacing never overplays the graphic aspects. It feels more like Adam West Batman versus Christopher Nolan Batman.
Patricia was my favorite character. I liked Jessica as well, and all three of the main protagonists–Patricia, Jessica, and Linda/Leonel–are all likable. They develop authentic relationships, and Patricia, in particular, walks an interesting line between being likable and competent. She also is the character with the most dramatic transformation, which endeared me to her.
Now, onto the parts of the book I hated. All of the characters develop their powers via magic emerald dust made by Dr. Cindy Lu–the Chinese doctor/medicine woman/mad scientist. Superhero stories get away with a lot of ‘how we got our powers’ absurdity, which is probably why I tend to loathe origin stories, and this book is no exception. There’s the magic soap, the magic tea, the magic skin cream…you get the idea. It’s all based around pseudo-science garbage, which made for a doubly uninteresting origin story. Yes, Peter Parker got bit by a spider, and that’s stupid, but he didn’t bathe himself in freaking soap. That’s a new level of dumb.
If you can get over the ridiculous kick-off plot, which I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t–the writing is lighthearted and the characters work well. The idea is hooky–what if older women were superheros?–and the book revolves around these female friendships. Helen is the only character I considered underdeveloped, but the plot makes apparent why that is. Cindy, for all that I hated the stupid reasoning she was a mouthpiece for, is a paranoid and fully developed character that’s struggling with the limitations of human knowledge and technology.
The story ends on a cliff-hanger, too, but I was more relieved and less excited. Yes, I want to know what happens to Cindy, but if it involves more emerald-powder-fake-science nonsense, then I’m not sure I care so much. Still, the sequel promises to be about Patricia more, which is great because she had concrete character development from someone who distrusted people and doubted others competancy to someone that could be a team player. I liked that.
Rating: 3 stars. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this story, and the right person might love it. It’s a unique twist on the superhero genre, but too cutesy for my particular taste–which are apparently bloody, graphic, and crude.