Crimson Son by Russ Linton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I got this book from a Story Bundle called “Immerse or Die”. The editor of the bundle had a process that went something like, “I got on the treadmill and started reading. If the book wasn’t pulling me in by the time I finished my 30 minutes, it was eliminated.” I didn’t find it quite that engrossing, but I did enjoy it and by the time the climax arrived, I kept wanting to turn the pages to see what would happen next.
Irrespective of when this book was written, I happened to read it after having watched season 1 of the Amazon adaptation of Invincible. That happened to inform some of my guesses about where the story was heading. Pleasingly, I don’t think any one of those predictions came true. Just like the beginning of both the comic and TV show, we have a non-super kid who is the son of a seemingly Superman-level super hero. However, where Robert Kirkman starts off Invincible as a deconstruction/reconstruction of both the Spider-Man and Superman mythos, Crimson Son starts off completely differently. The family is in hiding in a kind of a defunct Fortress of Solitude – perhaps a more realistic fate for the Parr family in The Incredibles 1 after Mr. Incredible punches his insurance office boss through a bunch of cubicles. Coming closer to Invinsible (at least the TV show – it’s been a while since I read the comic) the dad seems to have anger management issues causing some estrangement with his son. His son also seems to have very interesting lucid dreams (dreams where you are aware you are in a dream and, sometimes, able to control some of the events) that I believe the reader is meant to suspect are some kind of latent super powers.
The book seems to meander a bit at first, which made me surprised that it survived the Immerse or Die challenge. However, Linton pays off nearly all of the setup. He also manages a pretty sweet deconstruction/reconstruction of a Reed Richards/Hank Pym type of character. I think what dropped it from a 4 star was the ending. This book was clearly (I may be wrong, but it certainly reads this way) written to be part of a series. So while Spencer, our main character, actually has a great resolution to 2 of his plots, the ending still seems like if it was a movie we’d have at the end of the credits: “Spencer will return in Crimson Son 2: The Crimsoning”. There also didn’t seem to be a payoff to the strange sexuality with Charlotte near the end. Look through my book history and you’ll see I’m no prude – I’ve read erotica novels and romances and so on. But without any kind of payoff for the nudity or the ultra-specific detail of an erect nipple brushing against his arm – it just seemed gratuitous for what is otherwise a normal novel. (In other words you expect gratuity in an erotica, not a normal novel. In a normal novel there should be a reason for the excessive violence, language, or nudity.)
Overall, I had fun with the book. I’d recommend it as a super hero book that takes a slightly different look than all the others I’ve read – Invincible, The Boys, Irredeemable, etc.
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