Please Don't Tell...

I'm a sucker for superhero books.  Not, like, DC or Marvel, mind, but the kind of weird superhero book of oddball characters.  Like, say, girls who animate plushies, or a supervillain who can't get it right, or even the considerably darker Soon I Will Be Invincible.  Hell, the pulp noir of Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles scratches the same itch.

I've found that books like these are wellsprings of creativity.  In Velveteen, McGuire was able to explore the idea of what would happen to society if super powers existed (and the political ramifications thereof) while having fun creating ridiculous power sets.  Bernheimer's D-List series is a little less serious and has more fun with power sets, but it still deals with how the government would react, especially in the third book.  Grossman's Invincible was far more cynical in its dissection of the superheroing world.  Regardless, I love all these books for different reasons and in different ways.  Needless to say, when Curiosity Quills sent me a notification that Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super Villain was available for free on Kindle, I all but tripped over myself making sure I snagged a copy.

And then I bought and read Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon and Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have Henchmen.  Yes, I can be a little obsessed with this weird little genre.

These novels tell the story of Penelope Akk (they're all first person), the thirteen year old daughter of two retired superheroes.  Her father, Brian, is a technological genius who can make, modify, and repair almost anything, while her mother claims to have no powers, she just understands statistics to a frightening degree.  The best way to describe Beebe "The Audit" would be to imagine the Grammaton Clerics from Equilibrium, and then imagine someone who makes them look like a bunch of rank amateurs.  In the Please Don't world, The Audit was one of the most feared heroes.

The novel starts when Penny learns her powers are developing and things kind of snowball from there, especially since she's a far better fit for Mad Science (a villainous route) than super science.  The distinctions aren't too clear, but Penny's power seems to involve a lot more cackling and mad laughter than is strictly heroic. The books largely follow the exploits of Penny and her two friends Rey and Claire and their exploits as The Inscrutable Machine, a frightfully efficient and effective supervillain team.

The world building here is very nice, and opens up at a nice pace.  In this universe, the supers seem to be largely self regulating.  There are certain agreed upon rules between heroes and villains, and breaking those rules (such as "getting personal": the super version of doxxing, essentially) is a great way to get everyone to come down like a ton of bricks.  The lines between hero and villain are also much more malleable; Claire's mother, "The Minx", started as a cat burglar before turning hero while active... person... Lucyfar switches between hero and villain as her whims dictate.

There is also a very wide range of powers, although there's a lot of mad science.  It could just be that Penny focuses on it, but I think it's a grouping issue.  There's also a lot of matter manipulators, but they're not categorized as such.  Psychic powers and mad science are the only ones that are name checked like that.  That said, it's also less centralized than Velveteen's highly structured power system.  It's more... grab bag.  This leads to a lot of fun, like the girl with control over hair beads, or The Librarian who is just what she sounds like, and she has complete, reality shaping control, over the library she's at.

So, yes, as I'm sure is quite apparent, I really enjoyed these books.

I was a little hesitant in getting the second or third book due to the reviews I read on Amazon.  While they are certainly not as good as the first (and the years gap between 1 and 2 followed by months between 2 and 3 is worrisome), they're still quite solid, and I think the complaints are overblown.  At times, Moon certainly feels like a book that, in the outline stage, was intended to be something different and was retroactively reworked into its current form, I don't think that's what happened.  Also, Henchmen certainly has issues with an explosion of characters (also, Richard?  You need to pick names that don't start with C.  The two Claires was fine and amusing, but when you start having Cadence and Cassie and Claire and Cassandra and so on, it gets hard to keep people straight), I was mostly okay with it, especially because it expanded the world.

I think my biggest complaint is that there's a bit too much in here that's unexplained.  Some of it is probably intended for further reveal (like what the hell happened with Marcia), but other stuff feels like he played with it and then dropped it, and we're left blinking in confusion.  What's with the Puppeteers?  What the hell was that with the Jovians?  Anyone want to explain the colonists, anyone?  What about that cursed statue (or the cursed book)?  How was a half-height robot supposed to fool anyone?  Some of these are probably because of the first person perspective, but little things like that tend to fester and become really annoying if not addressed.

Still, these issues are minor.  I really enjoyed these books and would be more than willing to plunk down full price for a fourth book.  It's a really fun universe, and Penny is a great character.  If you're even vaguely a fan of the superhero genre, check it out.

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