Sunday, October 7, 2012

REVIEW: Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep

Description: Investigative reporter Carmen Cole gets the surprise of her life on her wedding day when she discovers that her fiance and best friend are sleeping together – and that the two of them are her town's resident superhero and ubervillain. Shocked and hurt, Carmen reveals their secret identities and then decides to devote her life to unmasking every superhero and ubervillain who crosses her path.
A series of successful unmaskings lands Carmen a job at The Expose, one of the biggest newspapers in Bigtime, New York, a city that's full of superheroes and ubervillains. Carmen is in her element – until she gets kidnapped by the Terrible Triad, Bigtime’s most dangerous ubervillain team.
The Triad orders Carmen to uncover the secret identity of Striker, the leader of the Fearless Five, Bigtime's most popular superhero team – or else they’ll drop her in a vat of radioactive goo. With that threat hanging over her, Carmen sets out to unmask Striker, but what she doesn’t count on is falling for the sexy superhero. But with the Terrible Triad lurking around, this is one story that just might be the death of her ...
My Thoughts: For the first half to two-thirds of this book, I was ranking it as a solid five. There's enough plot in the first third alone to satisfy an entire book, and Estep is not afraid to let her heroine Carmen screw up hard and face the guilty conscience that comes with it. Carmen is tough, smart, and flawed in ways that are understandable and sympathetic even as you're screaming at her to knock it off before she ruins someone's life. The will-they-won't-they between Carmen and Striker is based upon actual conflicts of personality and philosophy, not authorial fiat.
If this book does one thing to knock it down to four stars by the end, it's that Estep can't quite seem to make up her mind when it comes to how she wants to approach her superhero world. You can play it arch, or you can play it straight. Trying to do both makes Estep seem at points as though she's laughing at her audience rather than with them. There are also several moments when female rivals of Carmen's are disparaged in especially gendered ways, which always makes me twitch. If you're a fan of both paranormal romance and comic books/superheroes, however, give this book a chance. I think you'll enjoy it.

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