Spoiler Alert

ChangelingOccasionally we get dinged for our tendency to ignore spoiler alerts. We admit, when reviewing a novel, we sometimes reveal too many details. So be it. In all honesty we don’t have much sympathy for anyone who wants to be part of the dialog but puts limits on the conversation. And that includes authors and readers alike. In our opinion, people who complain too loudly about spoilers are crybabies.

But this time, we promise, we’ll do our darnedest to avoid revealing too much about the book. Mostly because there isn’t much to talk about beyond the last two chapters. And out of respect to the author, we’ll keep the surprise ending to ourselves.

Changeling is the second novel in Kelly Meding’s Meta War series (actually, the “war” is over, so technically this is the second novel in her post-Meta War series). Her group of young titans is the last of a defunct group of superheroes once called the Ranger Corps. They are heroes to some and villains to others, but they are feared by everyone. In this adventure they battle a pack of “Wild Card” mutants (a nod to George R.R. Martin, no doubt) who have been specifically bred to mimic and replace all existing superheroes.

Meding has made a wise decision to tell her latest story through the eyes of Dahlia, the newest member of the gang. In this way she is able to refresh old data, explore Dahlia’s superhero learning curve, and welcome new readers all at the same time.

In just about every other way, however, the novel is a total ripping mess. The plotting is haphazard, and the book suffers from unnecessary padding (are there no editors anymore?!). Furthermore, characters are encouraged to act dumb in order to facilitate conflict, and readers are asked to feel sympathy for a particular character they’ve never met. And, worst of all, important scenes are staged in the most contrived manner. For example, has there ever been a woman who was so desperate to test drive a used car that she would consider giving a blowjob to a car salesman? No, of course not. And as a result, Dahlia’s car heist cock tease (chapter 20) is just a comedy of bad writing.

Despite all these problems, Meding is a wily writer who knows how to pull a rabbit out of her hat when needed. There’s no question, the novel’s denouement is terrific. It will undoubtedly compel readers to pick up the next book in the series. It’s a shame, however, that we can’t talk about what happens in any detail. After all, the spoiler alert police might throw a hissy fit.

[Changeling / By Kelly Meding / First Printing: July 2012 / ISBN: 9781451620931]

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