Hey guys! So I know it’s been a while but here I am for another book blog tour. I know, books have been taking over the blog recently and it might continue for a bit longer since I have been binging quite a few titles (hehe). Like most of the blog tours I’ve participated in, this one is also hosted by That Bookshelf Bitch!
Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth ● Publication Date: March 15, 2018 ● Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing
Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.
But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a supervillain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?
Before I start the feels train I thought I’d add this warning that Shealea gave us around the time we signed up for this tour. Honestly, I have no idea what this stuff refers to but it was in bold and warnings are important!
The story involves sensitive issues, such as systemic racism and ableism
When I started reading this book I had favorites. Since we follow four characters, all of them siblings. We have Issac who is the smart science tech guy of the family, Yael who is a shapeshifter, Jamie who is the baby sister, and Opal, a girl who wants to be a superhero and moves to Chicago to fulfill that dream. And at the start, I couldn’t seem to get into the groove of so many characters. I instantly liked Issac though I’m not sure what about him I was attracted to. I’d say his smarts but maybe also how he saw Martin (an AI) as a human. I also have to say that Martin was awesome and I love him so much!
But it wasn’t until the story started to develop a bit more that I started to fall for the other characters. Yael was probably my second favorite because xe was all about family and protecting others, which is probably not the first thing you associate with a towering figure who looks like a previous villain. But just getting to know xyr (?) character and insecurities just made me fall for Yael.
That was when I started to really enjoy the book. I just really liked how even though everyone was so diverse I was able to create a connection with each them and their family situations. It grew from oh god so many characters to I want to know more about them!
And when I say diverse I mean it. This book really did a great job at introducing me to characters I had never seen before in books and doing it in a way that their differences weren’t weaknesses but strengths. One specific character I want to mention is Yael who is non-binary (I’m trying not to make a fool of myself, I’m still learning these terms so sorry if I say something wrong!). It was something that took me a bit getting used to and I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Yael scenes because I could not follow along with xyr (?) pronouns, which were mixed in with like 2-3 other people. See, even writing about Yael is making me a bit nervous. While reading I realized that xe was equivalent to he/she but I still get a bit mixed up with xyr. Not only with pronouns but I also had trouble with imagining Yael. How did xe look like? I wanted to know their biological gender and this book made me realize how dependent I am with this type of description. It made me realize that I could form a picture with all the other descriptors being given and how ingrained I am with he/she views (am I making sense?)
p.s. I was reading this book and was thinking I want to be Yael
But aside from a non-binary character we also had glimpses of characters with disabilities. And I feel like Jamie was at the forefront of this. Having lived her life coddled because of her poor health, she always felt like she had to prove that she wasn’t fragile and could do things for herself. And prove herself she did! Honestly, she was a character I wasn’t expecting to fall for because she’d been coddled. In a world with superheroes, advanced technology, and just danger, how was she going to survive out without protection (“without protection”).
And Opal. Even though our three siblings took the forefront of the beginning of the story I also feel like Opal really proved herself as a black woman trying to be a superhero with a not so great background. The author made sure to address how she would be viewed in this society as a minority, which I feel very much parallels our own even though this is sort of a futuristic world. If she had been lighter, if she had an education, if this or that. But even though she didn’t fit inside this mold that was “ideal”, she proved that she could be a hero through her character and insistence.
WOW. I know I’m talking a lot about the characters but I think that’s one of this book’s greatest strengths. Each character has their own challenges they have to face and like all coming of age stories, they make mistakes and learn from them. Family was also a big part of this book and it really reminded me of my own life, not because I’ve been in similar situations, but because communication and understanding is always something that isn’t clear between “kids” and “adults”. I feel like adults always feel like they have to know best, that they need to show their best face and that’s a pressure that is explored here. Actually, maybe a good way to summarize some of the things in here is to say it’s OK to be human and to not be ok or in control all the time
Moving onto other parts of the story, I wasn’t a big fan of the pacing while introductions were made but once I’d settled down with the characters, I felt it was a good pace. I think anything else would have felt too rushed and it made fight scenes easier to follow along (I’m terrible with fight scenes!). In terms of the plot, I did enjoy it. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy reading about superheroes kicking butt and saving the world from bad guy corps trying to get their hands on a certain technology made for good? But it also wasn’t really what made this book for me. I did appreciate the end battle though so there’s that (hehe)
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book more so for the characters and their family situations. I ended up giving it a 4/5 only because it lacked a certain feel for me. It could have easily been a 5/5 but it’s one of those things that I just can’t explain.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After about a decade of drawing comics independently or with small presses, Lee started writing prose out of a combination of peer pressure and spite, then continued out of attachment to their favorite made-up people. They live in Minnesota even though it is clearly not a habitat humans were ever meant to endure, with their lovely wife/editor, the world’s most perfect baby, and books in every room of the house.
If you like categories, they’re an ENFJ Slytherin Leo. If you’re looking for demographics they’re an agender bisexual with a couple of disabilities. If you’re into lists of likes: Lee loves comics, classical art, round animals, tattoos, opera, ogling the shiner sciences, and queer stuff.
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
Like always, I’ll be coming back to this to add in the links!
23 April (Monday)
- Secondhand Origin Stories blog tour launch via That Bookshelf Bitch
- Feature post from Candid Ceillie (Interview with Yael)
- Review and feature post from The Backwards Bookshelf
- Review from Crimson Talks Books, Mostly
- Review from Samantha House
- Review from Stuffed Shelves
24 April (Tuesday)
- Excerpt from Not Just Fiction
- Excerpt from Utopia State of Mind
- Feature post from Unputdownable Books
- Review from That Bookshelf Bitch
- Review from Bookish and Awesome
- Review from Cliste Bella
- Review from Wallflower’s Plight
25 April (Wednesday)
- Excerpt from The Nerdy Elite
- Exerpt from BookMyHart
- Review from Candid Ceillie
- Review from F A N N A
- Review from forthenovellovers
- Review from Igniting Pages
- Review from Spines in a Line
26 April (Thursday)
- Excerpt from Provocatrix
- Review from Bookish Wanderess
- Review from bookishwisps
- Review from Flying Paperbacks
- Review from TheHufflepuffNerdette
- Review from My Reading List
- Review from Unputdownable Books
27 April (Friday)
- Author interview on That Bookshelf Bitch
- Feature post from Cliste Bella
- Review from Afire Pages
- Review from The Book Maiden
- Review from The Little Miss Bookworm
- Review from Reader Fox and a Box of Books
- Review from The Youngvamp’s Haven
And that is all for this tour stop. I hope I was a bit coherent in my thoughts for this book but feelings and diversity aren’t things I’m used to talking about. If you’ve read this book, do you agree with anything I said? If you haven’t, have I convinced you to pick it up?
Thanks for stopping by~
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