J.B. Garner’s Indomitable – The Push Chronicles: Book 1, is a superhero story unlike any superhero story I’ve ever read before. That’s because it just doesn’t feel like a superhero story. It feels closer to sci-fi if anything.
Indomitable follows Irene Roman, a scientist who witnesses the birth of a new reality: A world of superheroes. She takes it upon herself to try an return reality back to the way it was. Saying anything more would spoil the book, I think, but it seems heavily inspired by my favorite issue of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (issue #18, I think), A Dream of a Thousand Cats.
The novel plays with a lot of classic comic book tropes, such as monologue, with the main character being the only one aware of whats going on. It was very cleverly done, especially having the POV character being aware of the reality and tropes, but because she’s not a huge comic book fan (she doesn’t even like the things), she avoids coming across as smug.
Something I found interesting was that there is no true villain, which is quite a rarity for a story like this. Oh, sure, there are characters who are jerks or mentally ill, but no one comes across as evil. Sure, there’s mention of an evil mastermind pulling strings from behind the scenes, but he has almost no presence in the story and seems like almost an afterthought, although I’m sure he shows up in the sequel. Speaking of the sequel, one thing that felt a little off putting about the book seemed to be the build up to a specific ending without the payoff. I have a feeling that was intentional though, given the last line. The ending subverted the expectations of a superhero origin story, which is something I really enjoyed.
I did find it annoying, however, that the author commonly employed words that, to me at least, came across a little too pretentious, like he was trying to show off or enjoyed abusing the thesaurus, usually using ten dollar words when a fifty cent word would’ve done the job. He also often chose awkward sounding choices when it came to the phrasing of his sentences (although they were grammatically correct). I do know that the author just recently come out with a new edition of the novel wherein it was reedited, so its possible those issues are now fixed.
All in all, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but I’m glad I read it. If you’re a fan of sci-fi or superheroes, give it a read. It’s a superhero book for folks that aren’t necessarily big on superhero stories. It isn’t what it appears at first glance, but that’s not a bad thing.