Matt Callaghan is in trouble. In a world where everyone has superpowers, he's got squat, and has spent the last five years faking being clairvoyant just to avoid getting caught. Unfortunately, Matt's lies have started to catch up to him, and when a desperate bluff backfires he'll need every ounce of cunning, conning and juvenile delinquency to stay undetected and alive.
Jane Walker is trouble. In a world where everyone is powerful, Jane stands alone and apart, hated for her ability to copy abilities and atrocities far beyond her control. But fate is a fickle friend, and a chance encounter soon finds Jane hurtling towards her lifelong dream - or prejudice, humiliation and a violent, painful death.
Unbeknownst to them, Matt and Jane’s paths are inextricably intertwined, and as each struggles to find their place an unseen force will draw them ever forward – closer and closer to a secret whose existence threatens not just their lives, but the fate of the entire world.
A loving homage to and twist on the superhero genre, Superworld is a fun, subversive story about identity, empathy, connection and courage which has been called “very entertaining and creative” and “an absolute pleasure” by readers, and "completely unreadable" by the author's blind grandfather.
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A lot of this story's main theme is bog standard. The setup of a guy without powers in a world with them and the problems therein can be a bit sitcom. The main plot points and twists are foreshadowed to the point you typically won't be surprised.
And yet. In spite of that, I am consistently surprised by how impressive the execution is. The grammar and prose is near spotless, the characters believable and human, the world building captivating, and I've genuinely laughed aloud at several chapters. The author has obviously put countless hours of work into polishing this story into a gem.
If you have a guilty pleasure for "secret identity" fiction, you'll love this. But even if, like me, you don't? It's still worth giving a shot. I went in with blatant skepticism, and yet here I am waiting for the next chapter.
Despite being a "Super" fiction and in a setting where everyone has some kind of power, this is, in the end, an excellently written human story, with realistic characters, well-thought worldbuilding and exploring themes such as inclusion and exclusion, fitting in and the consequences of such behavior.
I can say that I fully recommend reading ths fiction.
Very well written and a very good read. This is probably the first story where I found the underpowered main character done really well. Our protagonist is smart and has the outlook on life and social skills of an adult, which is a good thing for all of us who loathe the "realistic" teenage drama about nothing stories.
Recommended go read it.
Alright friends, buckle up because this story is the best superhero-genre novel on this entire website (and possibly one of the best period).
The characters are superbly written, dialogue so natural that it truly mirrors reality and the world-building is handled with careful finesse, allowing readers to explore the world alongside the characters. The plot isn't predictable, the prose is elegant and refined, and there is careful consideration behind each and every paragraph. It is clear that this is an edited work that has been through careful consideration and revisions (as evident by the Author's note on chapter 1.1).
Ok, I've said enough - just read the story. You won't be dissapointed.
Great story. None of that "my MC is smart because I say so" bs from crap authors.
This author knows how to write a story. The show don't tell is well exercised .
No major spelling or grammatical errors or at least the story is good enough that I fail to see them.
My Discord server wouldn't shut up about how good this is.
"READ IT NOW" they said.
Me: I like superhero fics. But also how good can it be?
Several hours later I've finished binging.
Turns out, this story is really really good.
Matt has a secret. He is possibly the only person on earth without superpowers. To hide this fact, he decides to sell himself as a clairvoyant, a new kind of super...one with "indistinct visions" that are difficult to measure objectively. After all, how do you measure the predictions of a clairvoyant who can supposedly get insights into the future like an oracle?
I gotta admit, I was skeptical. I read a lot of OP MC books and the thought of reading about a guy without powers wasn't immediately appealing. But boy, our boy Matt isn't a push over. He's awesome and fully deserves to be our MC.
Matt works extremely hard to sell his clairvoyance as legitimate, using tools like excellent observation skills and even hacking to find out information that he shouldn't know. More than that, in a world of supers with mind reading powers, Matt has to make sure his mental defenses are at peak performance. He practices for over an hour every day on mental exercises to be the master of his own mind, with powerful results.
Matt has the world fooled... but what happens when a moment of carelessness throws his carefully sculpted persona into jeopardy? Matt finds himself inextricably tied to a girl that everyone hates because of her status as an empath, as she can copy other peoples powers with a touch. Some powers are too powerful, and when synergized together...catastrophic. Like walking 500 atom bombs catastrophic. Enter Jane, the "5 am ghost at the gym" who is just trying to prove the world that she isn't a monster, like the notorious empath who killed a billion people 10 years ago. Her only dream is to become a true hero and help people, but nobody will let her.
Matt and Jane develop an unlikely relationship as they both pursue near opposite goals (staying under the radar, becoming a hero). They soon find themselves at the center of things bigger than themselves... things with deadly, world spanning consequences. Because who better to predict how to save the world than a clairvoyant, right?
(cue Matt internal screaming)
Prose and grammar are excellent.
If there is any justice in this world, Superworld should shoot straight up into the top 5 of best rated within a week.
Superworld's dialogue and banter between characters is easily the best on this whole site, its grounded, funny and above all just really captures a distinctive voice for every single character. It's also probably the funniest story on here that doesn't rely on absurdism or surrealism to generate laughs. I'm not saying its a non-stop barrel of laughs, but the author genuinely has some comedy chops. All that, is only about half of what makes this story so good and is largely captured within one character POV.
On the other side of the coin, the author shows of their ability to write badassery, angst and drama with ease. Honestly if you split off each POV into their own story, somehow, they would both be brilliant on their own and completely distinct. Yet the author makes a sum much greater than the parts by expertly weaving the two storylines together.
Lastly i would like to say that the author does an absolutely superb job at portraying how horrible teenagers can be, without reducing them to being caricatures. As well as portraying kindness and wholesomeness in a manner that isn't sickly sweet and seems grounded in the socially complex world we live in.
note: i generally don't enjoy the superhero genre that much, most have a certain tone and story arc that i don't enjoy. I also tend to avoid stories focussing upon young adults and/or teenagers for similar reasons. So i really have no reason to enjoy this story, except that it's just so all round great, it would be impossible not to.
For most of us, superpowers have always brought new worlds, and you could call it, escaping reality. They did'nt need to feel real, because the whole poing was, they where not.
Superworld is the oposite. The MC feels, talks, and behaves like an actual person would, and so do most if no tall of the characters. Side characters are really fleshed out and come to life on their own, which make the plot progresion much more organic.
The writing is flawless (at leas to my knowledge), and the style is very good, conversations feel real, the autor takes his time in developing the world, characters,... everything really, while being interesting and fun to read at the same time. Basically this is pro work here.
Flaws... please don't read the overwiev of the story, contrary to the rest of the work it seems to have been written by a novice writer. The title could be better, as well as the cover. Sciente notes could be more engaging for te reader, or just write small extracts at the beginning of each chapter (hopefully referencing to things relevant to the story).
To sum it up this is pure gold, but round arround the edges. With a little effort, it should be one of the top storyes on RRL in no time.
I will write an advanced review later. But for now I just want to say that this has a real Xavier Institute vibe.
Whether the teachers, the fellow students, the 2 main casts and their personal struggles. And that is a good thing. Because for some reason, it mixes the weird American sorority/fraternity (as a non-american) culture with super-humanisn seamlessly.
The powers aren't plot devices. Superhuman abilities actually shaped the very culture, lifestyle, traditions of this alternate Earth.
And the best part, the male protaginst is very likable. I always look forward to how he will solve problems. Yes, that's it. the main character uses his cunning to solve problems, and I farking love it.
Rating system: In my system, 2 1/2 stars is average, unobtrusive. Not problematic, nor a highlight. This goes for everything except Grammar, where 5 stars is flawless and any thing less denotes problems.
Disclaimer: As of the time of writing, Superworld is not complete. Anything I say only applies up to Chapter 7 - Matter and Mind (the 34th chapter by RoyalRoad categorization). Hopefully I will have the presence of mind to edit this as Superworld develops, but who knows.
Disclaimer: Very minor character and story spoilers ahead. I'll keep it to a minimum but, for the sake of clarity, some will be unadvoidable.
Spoilered because of length.
Overviews are also hard. You should read this, I absolutely recommend. I am tired so this may not be my most sensical review. If you still don't understand what this story is from the synopsis and this review, just give it a go. It's very good.
Great. I didn't notice any spelling mistakes, odd punctuation or weird sentence structure. So yeah, that's fine.
The style is simple and effective. It varies slighty when switching between scenes, starting either with an environmental or situational description, a character's internal thoughts and observations or with dialouge, mid conversation. This isn't anything major, but you won't always get that on Royal Road, and you'll certainly notice if it is missing. This earns it a bonus 1/2 star over average.
It earns another 1/2 a star because of the dialouge writing. I won't go to in depth because it overlaps with the Character section, but the dialouge and word choice is effective at displaying the unique personality of the character speaking. A character who has practice laying low has great banter with pretty much everyone, teenager dialouge is relatively realistic (can be hard to nail, and at times it can feel a little odd in Superworld but is mostly pretty great).
I'll also highlight the action. As of this point in the story, we haven't seen a lot of it, but what we have seen was well written. In general, it is a competently written work, with no major flaws or shortcomings. It has a couple of well done elements and interesting Supplementals, but nothing to really elevate the style to being something of note.
The characters are an easy highlight of the work. The POV characters are all interesting, realistic and fun to read, while the side characters have unique and developed personalities.
The two main characters nuanced personalities are unique in a way that I think is rarely seen anywhere, not just on Royal Road. One way to look at them is as a spin on the classic "anti-hero" and "paragon" archetypes. One is a classic do-gooder, but also is a skilled social manipulator and has no real ambition. The other is aggressive and resentful because of a life of discrimination. However, it doesn't ignore the effects of such treatment when she starts to open up by making a socially naive heart of gold type. She remains socially awkard, angry and prone to violence. The characters have further nuances that shine through as you read them. They feel like they could be real people.
The dynamic between different characters is brilliant, always feeling like an understandable extension of who they are.
It wouldn't be correct to say that every character is completely archetype free: not every character will get the same amount of time in the sun, afterall. But I will say that whenever they did crop up in cerrtain side characters, the usage of the trope didn't feel lazy or tacked on. The role of the character in the story and the world always fits the archetype applied.
Superworld is not a standard superhero story. I don't mean that it is a subversion a la Watchmen or The Boys. I mean it lacks many of the elements of classic superhero stories. It doesn't focus on violent antagonistic forces, have human lives at stake or much superpowered action. It is more akin to a young adult drama that takes place in a supehero world (Going over this to edit, I realise the way I phrase that may put some people off. This isn't a John Green or Rainbow Rowell novel, but it does have some resemblances. This isn't helping. Just read it and you'll see what I mean). It takes it's time to develop it's characters, their relationships and the struggles they face. Those struggles just happen to be superpower related. Which makes everything better. It is an interesting concept executed superbly.
It certainly does have it's superhero elements and high stakes, but they are only just beginning to come into the story, so I can't comment too much on how or if it transitions into a different kind of plot. I don't think the author will sweep the rug out from underneath us though with a sudden focus or genre shift. It seems as though the character relationships and drama, which has been the core of novel thus far, will remain a feature however the plot itself evolves.
While Superworld's story is excellent and wonderfully paced - not a single chapter feels redundant - I do get the sense that the story is only just beginning. This makes it hard to deliver a conclusive verdict and so I am keeping it at 4 stars for now. It could easily have a higher score and I trust the author to develop it in an interesting direction, but I just don't quite know how to rate an incomplete work.
Triggering and problematic elements
This is a Cosy Curse special segment. If this section feels too PC for you, I don't care. It doesn't need to be for you then. I think it is good for people to know this kinda stuff. Enjoy. (There may be triggering content or words in this section. Kinda unadvoidable).
To clarify, triggering content is an issue of taste. Depending on your life experience and sensibilities, this content might be problematic for you. However, it is not morally an issue. This includes such things as depression, abuse, addiction and crude language.
Problematic content is content that spreads harmful, bigoted or generally morally unacceptable messages. Some common examples are, the inclusion of sexist, transphobic, homophobic or racist stereotypes, a lack of positive diversity, the romanticisation of abuse, and misrepresenting history and complex social issues to mislead the reader.
There may be some overlap between the two.
This story depicts bullying and social isolation. This is frequent and constant throughout the work.
A catastrophe equivalent to a nuclear bomb or natural disaster is mentioned frequently, however a POV of someone experiencing the disater has not been shown. It has only been talked about in an abstract manner.
Neglect, child abuse, rape, anorexia, murder, trauma and suicide are all mentioned or alluded to. They are very, very small elements of the work and are absolutely not shown in any kind of detail. Most of them are throwaway lines or in the subtext, and are not likely to be a problem.
'Retard' appears a couple of times and is used as an insult by the characters (I will expand on this later). Calling people gay is used as an insult by some characters (I'll expand on this too). No slurs though.
I am happy to report that I judge Superpower to be free of problematic messaging or stereotypes! Woo!
There is a small caveat when it comes to normalisation of problematic language or behaivours. Perspective characters, people that we are generally expected to root for, use retard and calling people gay as an insult and insulting banter. They also casually suggest killing themselves as a solution to problems.
Personally, I don't find these things problematic (in this specific situation, that is). I won't get into specifics, but I feel it is true to who these characters are as stressed teenagers in the early 2000's. These are 3d characters, not flawless paragons of human morality and behaivour. I see this as good writing on the authors part, not an endorsment of the behaivour in question.
These things only crop up once or twice by my measure. They are by no means a common feature of the work.
Conclusion and message to the author
I am tired. I don't know how good this review is at breaking down this works elements or how well I've made my thoughts clear, but I think I've repeated "just read it" enough that you get the point. You can figure it out yourself.
(To readers of this review, I previously had a section where I gave my thoughts on the authors branding choices. I removed it because, one way or another, my concerns were resolved and to reduce the length of the review. So if you're wondering why it went, thats why.)
If your looking for another Superhero story to read after this one might I suggest There Are Superheroes In This Story. It is a bit messier than Superworld, sometimes failing to juggle it's grand ideas, set pieces, intrigue and cast, but it makes a good attempt at all four. It also deals with some really interesting ideas re power and philosophy. It's a good time. I have no affliation with the author I am just a fan. Hope this doesn't come off as a hijack of the main review.
Bye for real. Peace.