Rating: 2.75 stars
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Ben finds it’s hard to feel good about himself from under his parents’ capes. As the son of two powerful supes, he has lived with his parents’ double lives always in his face. Their duty to save the world and all of humankind often gets in the way of their time with him, as parents. Now, though, it’s time for Ben to spread his own wings and start an adventure of his own as he enters Super U, where he will learn to control his own powers and become his own hero.
Last year, Nate and Harry lost a friend. It wasn’t quite their fault, but that doesn’t stop Nate from feeling like he deserves more punishment than he got, and for Harry — who, quite literally, lost a part of himself — it’s even harder. They’re back at Super U as first years, and the first mistake they make will be their last. So it’s time to keep their heads down, their grades up, and get through the next four years.
For Nate, it’s lust at first sight when he sees Ben. He wants to get to know him, and hopefully befriend him … if not something more. For Ben, it’s loathing at first sight, as Nate locks him out of their shared room so he can take a shower, lording it over him that he’s a prefect and Ben’s just another lowly student. It doesn’t get much better, as a student is attacked and Ben blamed for it. But when a student is actually killed, it’s time for the superheroes to come in and take charge, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that two of those heroes are Ben’s parents.
Solar Wind is the fourth book in the Super U series, a series of superhero college adventures, but it’s able to read read as a standalone. Not that there’s actually much of an emphasis on the college experience in these books. It’s adventure and romance and angst and drama with kids who have superhero powers, but with a little bit of a twist. The superhero who can talk to animals doesn’t actually seem to like animals — not that they have anything useful to say — and the healer ends up collapsing after he’s helped with an injury. And Ben’s powers, as an air elemental, are given a more scientific than sci-fi explanation.
With a large cast of characters, it’s a little hard to tell anyone apart, but Nate stands out as a strong voice. He’s eager to get to know Ben, eager to flirt and try to take the relationship somewhere .. but not so eager to dive head first into sex. He want chocolates and flowers; he wants to date. Nate wants to be in love with his boyfriend, thank you, not just falling into the bed of the first person who rings his bell. And he’s honestly trying to be a good guy. Maybe he won’t be a hero, maybe he’ll just use his powers for fun, but it doesn’t stop him from always doing the right thing.
I didn’t get a real feel for Ben, as a character, until the end of the book where he takes an almost 180 degree turn from snarky, edging on bitchy, to downright cruel. When Nick makes it clear he wants to try being boyfriends, Ben’s first instinct is to shove his hand down Nick’s pants — though he does take Nick’s “not yet, please!” and slow down to his new partner’s pace. Nick just felt like a puppet acting out a role until the story finally decided where it was going and where it was going to put him. Which is … fine. Personally, I would have preferred Nick to have more of a voice in the beginning of the book, but it did add more strength to his arc when he suddenly became a real person in the last quarter of the story.
There are quite a few typos or malapropisms in this book, such as “bonafede” instead of “bona fide” or “me” instead of “mean,” “wonton” instead of “wanton,” “sooth instead of soothe”; and the formatting in the version I received had line breaks in the middle of sentences. The pacing is a bit slow in parts, and when the big action scenes begin, they end almost in the same moment. Personally, the end of this book was better than the beginning, which makes for a more satisfying story, but I’m not sure I can, personally, recommend it. The beginning half is just not enough in character, writing, or story, for me.
Wonton instead of wanton is a major oops but was certainly amusing. Thanks for your review, Elizabeth.