Let's start at the beginning. First came Powerless by Matthew Cody. Basic plot synopsis: Daniel is a normal kid that moves to Noble Green and discovers that some of the kids there have super powers, but that they lose those powers on their 13th birthday to a dark, mysterious Shroud. Only Daniel can solve how to save his new friends from such a fate.
Moving on, Daniel does in fact defeat the Shroud, all is well. The End. A good solid book with a nice ending that is somewhat, but not overly so, open to a sequel. Powerless won the Caudill Award in 2012, and for good reason. It has great kid appeal because kids are the heroes and adults are absolutely powerless.
And then comes Super
Here is where things start getting interesting. Basic plot synopsis: Daniel and the Supers are living normal lives, when a car plummets off a bridge, and super Eric begins to drop it. Daniel actually saves him by pulling the car off Eric, so is Daniel super now too? But Daniel only seems able to borrow his friends powers, and only in times of stress. Add in new power snatching monsters, referred to as Shades, and new members of the Plunkett family and the Supers have plenty of problems to go around.
But here's where is gets good. Daniel finds that he can take away powers, because he has a ring made of Witch Stone, and is being controlled by Herman Plunkett, and all of that is bad, but, not all Supers want to be super. Lousia hates being super, so when Daniel borrows her power of intangibility, she pretends it never comes back. Bud, a super-smelly-Super, begs Daniel to take his powers toward the end of the book. To some, this isn't a privilege, it's a curse.
Also, I'm not really giving anything away by saying that the supers win, the Shades go away, and all is well in Noble Green again, but what is interesting is that the shadows of all the kids who Herman Plunkett stole the powers from return to their owners. So, powers and memories return to adults. Now instead of six super kids, you have over 200 super humans worldwide, and that can't be ignored.
Finally, Daniel meets Johnny Noble, the original Super, who seemingly abandoned the town and its children. But Johnny Noble knows a thing or two about being Super, and maybe it's more dangerous than people think.
While this book wraps up well, it's open to a sequel, and one can only hope that the sequel will address some of these ethical questions, like how do you keep a race of supers in check? Is it right to steal powers to stop a super gone rogue? Was it better to let the children live normal lives, rather than let them become super adults? Can the supers stay innocent, or will they be used as weapons as Johnny Noble feared?
I think the series will get deeper and raise some good questions for young readers. I was honestly lukewarm about Powerless, I thought it was good, not great. But when I had the opportunity to read Super free from Netgalley, I took a shot, and I'm glad I did. I'm starting to see the greatness here.
Any readers that enjoy Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, 39 Clues, etc., etc., would likely enjoy these books as well. And the programming possibilities are pretty great here. If super-stinkiness is a super power, what else could be? Have kids come up with strange powers that they would want to have, perform unusual feats of strength, but ask them to identify things by smell or touch, because they could have super senses. Ask them to sort something really fast, because maybe that's a power! Who knows!
Super will be released on September 25, 2012. That gives you three months to read Powerless and catch up! Don't miss out on this series.