Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Book Review: Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep

Title: Karma Girl
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Book #1 in the Bigtime series
Release Date: 1 May 2007 (reissued as ebook on 12 July 2011)
Number of pages: 360 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Bigtime, New York, is not big enough for both Carmen Cole and the superheroes and ubervillains who stalk its streets. An intrepid reporter, Carmen's dedicated her life to unmasking the spandexwearers, all because her fiancé turned out to be a superhero, and a cheating one at that-sleeping with none other than his nubile nemesis.

Exposing the true identities of the nation's caped crusaders and their archenemies has catapulted Carmen from her sleepy southern hometown to the front pages of the country's biggest newspaper, The Exposé. Hobnobbing with millionaires and famished fashionistas is all in a day's work for a woman on the trail of the Fearless Five and Terrible Triad. But when Carmen gets the scoop of her career, her life comes crashing down around her. And even Bigtime's sexiest superhero, Striker, may not be able to save her.

Originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: I'm a big fan of Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series and immediately fell in love with the premise and characters of her Mythos Academy series, so I had a hinch that I would be in for a great story when I started reading Karma Girl, but I never expected to be blown away this much!

Karma Girl is the first novel in Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series which is set in an alternate universe where every town in the world has their own superheroes (“someone who shows up whenever the train runs off the tracks and won’t stop”) and ubervillains, the archnemesis of the superheroes, those “who want to rule supreme”. Cape and tight wearing cartoon characters are actually real people and battles done with superpowers are true and not sci-fi stories. Can you imagine such a colourful, buzzing and heightened world? Well multiply what you picture by a thousand and you might get close to Bigtime, where if someone says “traffic was terrible” it might mean that “Yeti Girl was throwing cars around the freeway. Swifte showed up and helped the cops tranq her, but it took them forever to get the debris off the road.”

The Bigtime series is flashing with the bright costumes of the several dozens of superheroes and ubervillains Jennifer Estep introduces: there is Granny Cane (yep you got it right, she is an old lady of seventy who grabs the purse-stealing thugs and brings them to the police lol), reformed ubervillain Shrieker who signs copies of her tell-all memoir in the mall, but the most famous ones in the city are the Fearless Five and the Terrible Triad.

“They were legends, not just in Bigtime, but throughout the world. They had the strongest powers. They waged the biggest battles. They engaged in the most amazing escapes and the most elaborate schemes. They were the crème de la crème of superheroes and ubervillains.”

I just loved all the cartoon-like speaking names of the superheroes and ubervillains: the Toastmaster, The Kilted Scotsman, the Blue Berserker, the Fearless Five and the Terrible Triad; and the alliterating names for every character (Sam Sloane, Nate Norris, Devlin Dash, Carmen Cole) helped even more to make me feel like I was watching an episode of Superman. :-D

Carmen, our heroine, is a great character: she is an ordinary girl, one the reader can relate to. She is funny and independent but not too good to be true. She is human and flawed. But her sense of humour is without a pair, I especially loved her t-shirts, they were the best:

T-shirt that read 0 to Bitch in 7.7 seconds or your money back.
T-shirt that read Love just weighs a woman down.
And her lines like the ones below made me chuckle out loud countless times:

“I scanned the street and the surrounding alleys. Nothing. I bit back a growl of frustration. Striker wasn’t going to show. I had come down to Drugs R Us and put myself in danger for nothing.” - ROFL

What I loved most about Carmen was that she treated superheroes and ubervillains as if they were normal, ordinary people. She was impudent, cheeky, she didn’t censor herself for fear of angering them, she remained her usual self.

A block went by, then another, then another. I wasn’t sure what to say to him, given the way our last conversation had gone. It hadn’t been a smashing success. “So, how was your day?” I asked.
Can you imagine that? A superhero is walking her home so she isn’t attacked and she tries to make ordinary small talk with him! Unbelievable, and so adorable :-D

What could you say to a superhero you’d slept with? Thank you? Atta-boy? Keep up the good work?

Striker is a dashing hero. Besides being a superhero and everything that entails: drop dead gorgeous body, noble intentions, heroic and fierce protector, he has a tender and intense side to him when it comes to Carmen.
“Superheroes aren’t perfect, you know. Just because some of us have superstrength doesn’t mean we never get scared. We have fears and insecurities and worries too. I was afraid tonight. Afraid for you. I saw the men chase you into the alley. I was afraid I wouldn’t be quick enough to save you, fast enough to stop them.”

The love story between Carmen and Striker was exciting yet tender. His gentleness and care didn’t only make Carmen melt but I was a puddle myself. (and of course the heat of some scenes are to be blamed as well, there were some seriously sensual love scenes)

His hot breath brushed against my cheek as soft as a butterfly’s kiss on my feverish skin.

Karma Girl is a wonderful mix of mystery, adventure, romance and heaps of cheeky humour! I loved the wonderfully colourful characters, the exciting worldbuilding, the puzzling mystery, all the heart pounding action and of course the wonderful love story deleoping between Carmen and Striker!

Verdict: I was already a big fan of Jennifer Estep but Karma Girl made me even more devoted! It is such a laugh out loud funny, incredibly witty, amusing, breath of fresh air story, I loved every second of it and cannot wait to read more about the superheroes and ubervillains’ adventures!

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 8/10 - there are several covers, one for ebook, one for paperback, etc. I prefer the one I chose above, my grade is for that one

Buy it:

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