Book Review: Playing For Keeps

I have to say, up front, that I’m not a big fan of superheroes. Occasionally, a stand-out will come along, like the new Batman Movies or the first X-men film, that will stop me in my tracks and make me cheer, but generally speaking, the whole notion just doesn’t appeal to me all that much. I’m a practical guy – I like my magic to be magic, and my techno-wizardry to have a hard science foundation, and super-heroes always strike me as trying to have it both ways: occasionally tipping a had to the notion of science while pretending that things like “radiation” or “viruses” or “mutations” can explain everything. That, and the writing on most superhero stories is pretty spare and juvenile.

Playing For Keeps is different. Mighty Mur has delivered. The writing is smart, the characters are well drawn and have surprising depth, and she sneaks in the thought-provoking concepts in sophisticated, subtle ways, teasing the moral, ethical, philosophical, and emotional implications of her universe out one thread at a time. It’s the kind of book that is a good, fun read the first time through, and then you find yourself turning it over again in your mind a week or two later, until you decide to go back and read it again to find out what it was that you missed. Something hooked your subconscious, and you don’t know what. Playing on three levels: the superhero story, but delightfully satirized, the human story of social rejects getting revenge, and the philosophical level where the reader is invited to ponder what simple concepts that we encounter ever day – such as ownership and respect – really mean when you dig down into them, Playing for Keeps delivers depth and challenge wrapped up in pink spandex. Funny as hell, witty like Wilde, and filled with cliffhangers from start to finish, this is one book you shouldn’t allow yourself to miss.

Mur’s making her run on Amazon today – – not tomorrow, as I mistakenly said in the latest Antithesis episode — so if you can order today, do so. If you can’t, do order as soon as you’re able. This is one talent that the world deserves to discover, and pushing her out into the limelight with her first novel here is a big step towards that discovery.

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