Review: Black and White by Caitlin Kittredge and Jackie Kessler

Ok, I admit it. I have a thing for superheroes. Wolverine. Gambit. Batman. Darkwing Duck. Well, maybe not that last one; but I have a serious weakness for superhuman powers and shiny high-tech toys. And I always root for those heroes who aren’t afraid (or who are at least willing) to be bad in order to do good.

I have to be honest in the interest of full-disclosure. Since first reading a small teaser blurb about Black & White, I’ve been nutty about it. Superheroes? Female superheroes? Female superheroes at odds with each other, one working for good and the other for villainy? Oh, I am so there. I’ll freely admit that I totally went fangirl; but that story’s for another time.

I raved about this book before I read it and now that I’ve finished every delicious page, I have to say that my raving was not premature. Black & White is cover-to-cover superhero girl power awesomeness.

Set over a century in the future, mega-corporation Corp-Co employs the world’s only legitimate superheroes. Extrahuman rebellion is illegal, and anyone daring to lift a hand against Corp is deemed ‘rabid’ and hunted down to be either incarcerated or sent for the ominous-sounding Therapy. Yet for all of that, Corp-Co stands for justice and goodness, with thousands of extrahuman heroes protecting citizens all across the world. Or so say the sound bites, anyway…

Jet is the official hero of New Chicago, known as the Lady of Shadows for the superpower that simultaneously haunts her and allows her to do her duty. Duty is number one for Jet, who strives above all to do nothing but assist and save the citizens of her dear city. She’s haunted by the memory of the father who murdered her mother in front of her; and by the well-known fact that all Shadow powers eventually go insane.

Iridium, ex-classmate of Jet, grew fed up with the media and politicking of Corp-Co years before. She’s given up trying to protect anything but a small sliver of New Chicago (known as Wreck City), where she can negotiate with the prolific gangs to keep a tiny number of citizens safe – including herself. She set herself against Corp years before and now she’s the city’s most notorious (and most wanted) supervillain, playing Robin Hood to the city’s downtrodden and forgotten. Jet has vowed to bring her old friend to justice.

And then the plot thickens.

Oh, I won’t ruin it for you. I’ll just give you a taste. There’s Night, Jet’s mentor, the only other Shadow-wielding superhero on the continent. In my head, he’s Sam Jackson in a cowl. Then there’s Taser, free-lance (and therefore rebel) superhero who’s powers are… electric. He’s teemed up with Iri for now – but is he really friend or foe? If you think you can guess, you’ve got it wrong. Last but not least is Bruce, Jet’s new assistant, who’s obvious sexiness makes her acknowledge the loneliness of her off-duty life. Is he what he seems to be? Or is he a little extra?

Toss in the mystery of a decades-old, defunct genetics lab and a missing star reporter, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos.

Black & White is a wild, fun, irresistible ride. It’s fast-paced enough to read in a day. Just don’t plan on doing anything else until you’re through – seriously. The story is told from the viewpoints of Iri and Jet in alternating chapters, interspersed with flashbacks of their school days together at the Corp-Co Extrahuman Academy.

Read more about it here. Or just go ahead and buy it. You know you want to.  There is a second volume planned for July of 2010 in what has been dubbed The Icarus Project.

[xrr rating=5/5]

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