When I saw the cover and the blurb for this book, which was released last month, I immediately requested it from NetGalley. I’m quite happy to read about youngsters coping with all sorts of adventures while assailed by self-doubt and first love – but as a woman of a certain age, the prospect of reading about my contemporaries zipping through the sky was irresistible. Would I be disappointed?
With great power comes…great frustration. Several months after the events of Going Through the Change, retired corporate vice president (and occasional lizard-woman) Patricia O’Neill is embroiled in a search for the mad scientist who brought the “change” upon them all. Meanwhile, Flygirl Jessica Roark and gender-bending strongman Linda/Leonel Alvarez have joined a mysterious covert agency known only as The Department. They’re training hard, in hopes of using their newfound powers for the greater good. Patricia thinks they’re being used. Cut off from the other menopausal heroes, she’s alone. And her search has hit a serious dead end. Then Patricia disappears, and all the clues point to a dead man. It’s up to her friends and The Department to find her and bring her home.
The cover led me to think that this would be a humorous take on the superhero sub-genre, but while there are a few comedy moments, Bryant is focused on delivering a full-on adventure. It took me a little while to work out what was happening to whom, because I did my usual trick of picking up the second book in the series, as the first book, Going Through the Change, clearly ended on something of a cliff-hanger.
But once I worked out what was going on with all four of the women who have been changed, the story started to fall into the place and I was intrigued by Bryant’s quirky take on the superhero genre. One grumpy elderly woman has been transformed into a flamethrower – so how does she control this lethal superpower? Poorly is the answer. Jessica can fly – or can she? She leaves the ground, but is finding it very difficult to do anything other than bump along the ceiling, or tumble helplessly without extra help. Whereas Linda, who has also changed gender as she comes to terms with her super-strength, is finding her marriage is being tested. No… David, her husband, is able to cope with her gender change, but isn’t so impressed that now she is fighting super-villains, the household chores are being neglected and she isn’t there to make his supper.
I love this notion that just because these women have been given these great powers, they don’t get a pass on basic physics or everyday problems. Life doesn’t get any easier – especially when you factor in the fact that there is also a couple of sinister characters who are kidnapping individuals with remarkable abilities to use for their own ends.
There are a few issues with the narrative – at times the pacing loses momentum while the storyline is pieced together. Within the different viewpoints and plotlines, there is some repetition and backtracking which, ideally, could be smoothed out. But I was surprisingly tolerant of these glitches – unusual for me, as this is something I normally very much dislike. However, I really enjoyed these characters and was prepared to go on reading to discover what would happen next. Though, I should warn you, while the main story is resolved, there is a major plotpoint still dangling. Will I be looking for the next slice in this adventure? Oh yes – I’m also going to track down the first book in this unusual, quirky series. I received a copy of Change of Life from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.