Robin Laughlin (a.k.a. the superhero Failstate) has finally achieved his dream. Not only is he a licensed vigilante, but he’s respected by his fellow heroes, feared by criminals, and he’s finally achieved peace in his family, especially with his brother, Ben (a.k.a. the superhero Gauntlet). That, plus the love of his girlfriend, Charlene, has made life good.
But then Failstate learns a secret about his father. Rather than the loving family man he remembers, Failstate’s father was a criminal who got himself killed when he crossed the wrong people. Before he can process this new information, he receives a warning that a villain named Abaddon is coming to New Chayton. The message is all the more disturbing since it’s delivered by Lux. She died in Failstate’s arms a year earlier. How can she possibly be alive?
Those mysteries will have to wait, though, as Abaddon storms New Chayton, strewing death and destruction in his wake. But he’s not the only newcomer. Unusual heroes are appearing throughout the city.
Can Failstate get to the bottom of the reappearance of Lux, the influx of new heroes, and the truth behind his father’s past–all while keeping Abaddon at bay? Abaddon may prove to be Failstate’s greatest nemesis. But what will Failstate have to sacrifice along the way?
It’s the moment Failstate fans have been waiting for, the conclusion to John W. Otte’s superhero tale about a boy with destructive powers bound to save his hometown. If you’re already a fan, suffice to say you’ll love the ending. But like the series as a whole, Failstate: Nemesis doesn’t offer a grand epic or flawless character study. It’s more like an entertaining B-movie that offers some fun surprises for the reader who follows it through to the end.
Otte’s able to juggle multiple tugs at the story while still keeping his eye on the prize, staying one step ahead of the game and drawing the reader to a rousing conclusion. Even the love plot with its requisite angst didn’t faze me; it’s there, and given proper respect, but it didn’t drown the story out or succumb to the worst excesses of relationship drama.
The peek into other potentially dimensional futures, especially of our main characters’ lives, was a unique twist on the superhero third act, adding just enough introspection to spice up a fairly straightforward action adventure. There were one two many scenes of character sitting around rehashing the same facts over again to suit me, and I felt like one of the main plot threads revolving around Failtsate’s family wasn’t developed far enough.
Still, give Otte his due: I didn’t see the final reveal until halfway through the book. Even seeing what was coming, the showdown played out nicely and gave our hero enough good moments to give him a rousing sendoff.
Every time I made the mistake of taking these books at surface level, Otte would slip in a morsel of thought that forced me to sit up and pay attention. He’s got a knack for interweaving moral and story that few others can pull off with such success, especially in this genre. It may not be amazing, but the Failstate books are certainly fun reads.