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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen (book review)

GENRE: Adult Sci-fi
LENGTH: 330 pages

Zoe and Jamie both wake up without any memories of their previous lives but with extraordinary abilities. Zoe becomes a vigilante and Jamie a bank robber but the two become allies in their mission to uncover the cause of their powers and memory wipes.

Zoe and Jamie are opposites in many ways. While Zoe takes to vigilantism because she feels she’s meant for more and is desperate to remember her past, Jamie takes to crime and has no desire to recall his past. Jamie is what I would refer to as a morally grey character (my favorite kind) because it’s clear he has a conscience and no true ill intentions, though what he does is illegal and wrong.
There’s no real romance in this book, but Zoe and Jamie are the platonic version of the romance trope of enemies to lovers. Their friendship added some moments of levity to an otherwise heavy and action packed story. Their friendship is what kept me reading after my interest in the story began to decline.
In terms of powers, Jamie has the ability to see into people’s memories and also to wipe them away. He can also ‘brain stun’ people which is essentially like temporarily paralyzing and confusing them (if you play Pokémon then think of it like the move confusion). Zoe has what I classify as generic superman powers. She has super strength, super speed, the ability to hover, and thermal vision. Her powers are cool, yes, but I’ve read plenty of stories featuring characters with similar abilities. It leads to some badass fight scenes, but I personally found Jamie’s powers to be more unique, useful, and terrifying.

The novel is told from the alternating third person perspective of both Zoe and Jamie. Despite its relatively short length for a sci-fi/fantasy book, I'd argue it's (mostly) the perfect length. Neither the development of Zoe and Jamie’s friendship nor the investigation and reveal of the mystery of how they gained their powers was rushed. The ending was a tad abrupt, but that’s really my only pacing complaint.
That being said, there was a big reveal about a minor character towards the novel’s conclusion. I’m not sure the reasoning for it, because that plot line went nowhere. Also, one character’s fate felt shoehorned in there at the end just to give the reader a ‘happy’ ending. It’s not that I didn’t like the ending, I just would have preferred more explanation on how it was possible. Yes, you obviously need to suspend disbelief with this genre, but even still the ending was pushing the limits of that suspension.
This book had me hooked in the beginning because I liked both of the main characters and the mystery/missing memory part reminded me of a thriller I really liked (Stay Awake by Megan Goldin). However, as the book continued the plot began to bore me. It was very much generic superhero stuff and I was hoping for more out of the story.
When I started reading this novel I thought there was potential for it to be a 5 star novel because I was so invested in the characters and finding out where the mystery was going to lead. Unfortunately, my reading experience was a gradual descent into disinterest. If you're looking for a superhero book that revolutionizes the genre then this isn't it. However, if you are a fan of the traditional superhero tale then you may like it.

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