Scarlet Winters by J. Kwong

Scarlet Winters by J. Kwong
The Berona Chronicles, Book 1
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (114 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Welcome to the city of Berona – a city governed by four Superheroes with great superpowers. Thanks to the Superheroes, Berona is mostly crime-free, and is touted as one of the best cities in the world. However, there are some people who aren’t so sure about Berona’s greatness…

Meet Terry Landers – a genius inventor who can create anything out of nothing. But Terry knows that she’s unpleasant and rude. which is why she’s surprised when she’s asked to become a Superhero’s sidekick. Terry is one of the few people who questions the wisdom of having the Superheroes govern Berona, and as she dives into her new role as a Superhero sidekick, she begins to realize just how right she might be.

Throw in a child kidnapping and evidence that links the crime to the Superheroes, it’s now up to Terry to save her beloved city. But will she be able to fulfill her duties as a sidekick? Or will danger find her first?

Not every superhero needs a sidekick. When they need one, though, they need one pretty desperately.

Terry kept me on my toes. At first I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of her due to her snide tendencies, but I soon grew to appreciate her reluctance to take anything at face value. She ended up being a breath of fresh air in a cast of characters that otherwise seemed to rely on other people’s opinions when making important decisions.

The dialogue in this story was awkward. Characters shift between one-word answers that rely heavily on slang and longer, more formal replies. In a few cases it made sense for them to shift between different speaking styles, but I was never able to predict when their speech patterns could be expected to change next. There was also a heavy use of verbs like snap, spits, growl, muttered, grumbles, and scream to describe how characters spoke. They were used so often that they distracted me from what was going on in the plot.

Heavily plot-based tales like this one often need to move quickly, so the pacing worked well for me. Some scenes also included action that took place on the periphery of the reader’s vision. The pacing reminded me of how many graphic novels are written as a lot of the backstory is revealed through conversations that take place alongside current crises.

I chose a lower age recommendation than the one the author suggested because of the types of humor the characters find funny. There is a lot of physical comedy as well as jokes that rely on puns and sly references. It reminded me of the kind of wordplay I enjoyed when I was in my early teens. I think this story will be most appealing to readers who are a few years younger than the original age range, although I’d also recommend it to older teens and adults who love comic books.

Scarlet Winters was a wild ride from beginning to end. Give it a try if you like fast-paced adventures!

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