DiscoverScience Fiction

Off The Pages

By

Worth reading 😎

Good versus evil in an ever-increasing battle of supernatural powers.

Off the Pages is action-packed! Its premise is interesting: ordinary people attaining the supernatural powers of comic-book characters – literally lifting these people off the pages – then fighting a fake Jesus in the ultimate battle between good and evil. The novel is predominantly action-fights described in intimate detail.

 

Following a story mountain narrative arc, overlaid with a classic Hero’s Journey format, the first chapter establishes the instigation for change, as protagonist Manny Voran discovers from his home town in “the desert of culture that [is] rural America”. As comic-book character Jennifer Black, (s)he feels “a sense of purpose [for] the first time in her life”. Drawing on the comic-book premise of superheroes being instantly recognisable, her preference for everyday clothes provides “a ‘costume’ without wearing a costume”.

 

Backstories are seen through main character Jericho’s supernatural power of looking into people’s memories – an excellent literary device which builds the narrative through flashbacks – allowing the reader to pause from the relentless fighting while gaining more insight into key characters. The characters include a mix of experts, their different backgrounds and skills influencing their superpowers. The narrative is also enlivened through relatable family politics, and some great twists in the resolution phase (which could have been explored more deeply).

 

Contemporary social issues such as racism, transgender dysphoria and poverty provide a backdrop to the action, but with little exploration succumb to being great ideas falling short of their potential.

 

Alejandro Gonzalez’s use of delightful figurative language such as “his eyes went speed addict wide” provoke good mental imagery. The ability of the ‘supers’ to travel all over the world provides an effective forum for description of different countries and cultures. The scene describing the total destruction of India is particularly evocative. However, the oft-repeated hyberbolic descriptions become tired quickly: the story arc is not so much rising tension-crisis-resolution plot markers as sustained crisis.

 

More specific word choice would make the writing easier to follow: some clumsy phrasing gives the feeling of stumbling over the words rather than flowing with them. Closer editing would tighten expression. Too often, the reader remains a passive observer rather than emoting with the characters, who all speak with one voice: particularly irksome with the real-life people such as President Obama. With greater experience of writing as a craft, Gonzalez may well enhance his overall writing.

 

Off the Pages is a worthy attempt at a challenging genre. Those who live for action scenes will enjoy it.

Reviewed by

My first book features my journey through depression and into wellness. I’m working on my second book, with enough material for five such books featuring poems and art. I’ve scoped two prose books and a picture book. My ability to transcend these ideas into reality depends on time-watch this space!

Chapter One

About the author

Alejandro Gonzalez is a comic book, manga, and sci-fi nerd who works and writes in southern Illinois. view profile

Published on January 24, 2021

150000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Science Fiction

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