Sunday, September 4

Vigilante by Robin Parrish

Crime in the US in growing at a speed too fast for local law enforcement to control. Something has to be done. Nolan Gray, a war hero, concocts a plan. Working with two friends, he fakes his death and then watches the streets of New York as a vigilante/hero. The public dubs him The Hand. Meanwhile, the President, who served with Nolan in the military, starts a new organization designed to fight organized crime faster and more effectively.

Vigilante reads as part Iron Man and part Batman. Parrish forgoes the superpowers of other heroes, opting instead for the hero with high tech gadgets and a wide range of combat skills.

Unfortunately, Vigilante completely misses the mark.

A typical superhero story gives you a bit of a chance to get to know the hero before they start crusading around their city. Usually, there is a major inciting incident which pushes them to heroism. In Iron Man (the movie), Tony Stark builds his suit to escape from his kidnappers, but he continues as Iron Man because he witnessed his technology being misused. Peter Parker makes the choice to use his powers for good after his uncle is murdered.

In Vigilante we are told why Nolan Gray decided to fight crime, but we’re never actually shown why. While serving in the military he was tortured, so now he feels obligated to fight crime. As luck would have it, crime is rampant in the US, giving Nolan his chance! However, the book begins with Nolan faking his death. We’re never shown the true impact the torture had on him. We’re told about his scarred body and he constantly tells people that he doesn’t want to talk about the war, but we never have a good chance to get into Nolan’s head. One of the key rules of storytelling which has been hammered into my head is, “Show, don’t tell.” Somehow Parrish manages to break this rule every other page, especially when it comes to character revelations.

Furthermore, the descriptions of the crime epidemic were all over the chart. Nolan’s real goal is to take out the large mobs, yet for much of the first half of the book he is stopping petty criminals, though we are told multiple times that organized crime is a real problem. This also leads to huge plot holes regarding the primary villain.

Unrealistic technology didn’t help either. While I expect there to be high tech gadgets that are highly fictionalized, they at least need to feel plausible. The descriptions of the weapons read more like a wannabe superheroes wish list.

The writing itself seemed to need some tune-ups in many areas as well. At one point, Nolan reveals himself to the President, who he refers to as Thor. This nickname is never explained, and Nolan uses it nearly every time he addresses the President, which gets extremely repetitive to read (and the nickname is never explained, leaving me quite confused!). Further, Parrish seems to intentionally avoid some details. We are never told which war Nolan served in, it is always referred to as “the war.” This makes me wonder, was it the Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, or some fictional war which only happened within the story? I think a minor detail like that would enhance my understanding of the characters and the situation!

Finally, the story was riddled with action and superhero clich├ęs and the characters are mostly one dimensional. Some of them didn’t even fit the flow of the story, and should’ve been cut altogether. The ending wrapped up way too nicely and much of what happened didn’t even seem to fit Nolan’s character.

While reading the premise of Vigilante I was intrigued. The idea sounded promising, and I was curious how a Christian superhero story would turn out. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.

1/5 stars

I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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