Wednesday, 5 September 2012

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

This is an odd book, and when I first started it (and even as I worked through it) I wasn't sure what to think of it. But I've thought about it a little and seem to have formed some opinions.
The book is a sort of comedic, reality-fantasy romance of some sort that doesn't try to be any of them (I told you it was odd). It is set in a world where being a superhero is fairly common place and the main character, who is not a super hero, is something of an anomaly. Whether Kaufman intended it or not, this idea of the fantastical becoming the norm is easily analogized with fame in today's culture: celebrity status is so much easier to reach these days and sometimes for no particular talent that the idea of fame has become less exclusive and thus less glamorous and interesting. I thought this very intelligent and particularly enjoyed it.
The story itself jumps around a lot. The 'present' in the book is really only a two or three hour period and the majority of the story is told via flashbacks. Despite this I found it relatively easy to follow. There were though, at seemingly random intervals, breaks from the story to give the reader a mini-biography of either minor characters or characters that were not mentioned at any other point in the book. I suppose they were to give the reader a little more context and to emphasise how common being a superhero was, but I didn't feel they were necessary. They just didn't need to be there.
I don't normally like romance and this book was essentially a romance. But what I liked and thought was different to other romance novels (like the extortionately high number of young adult books) was what it didn't try to hard to be a romance. It wasn't sappy and exaggerated: it was realistic (ignore the superheroes) and simple. It was blunt and honest but that was all that was necessary.
A clever, witty and funny little novella that I'm glad I read: I'd recommend it, especially if you are looking for something short.

(Side note: I apologize for the time it took for this review to come up. It turns out the pitiful British summer I expected was a lot hotter and I was bogged down with summer school work. After that, I went on holiday so I've only really just found the time. But you'll get Wuthering Heights soon because I finished that also, and soon Peter Pan.)