Penance has a problem. She also is a problem, for all her assorted victims. But she would like to bring an end to both sorry truths. Toward this end, an alien incursion may prove a help or hindrance. Penance by Paula Richey and Thomas Plutarch mixes superheroes and aliens in a colorful world. Its nearly-grown-up heroes convincingly balance adult troubles and capabilities with tentative vulnerability. A multitude of careful touches brings vividity to this alternate Earth and a sharp flavor of alienness to other worlds. Christianity is not emphasized but does have a definite presence in the heroine’s redemptive path. Through layered characters, pathos slips in among the flash of superpowers and spaceships. Penance is a lively, heartfelt sci-fi tale, built with engaging characters in a vivid world.
Best for: Fans of sci-fi and superhero stories, older teens.
Discern: Violence that includes a pitched gun battle and attempted murder, a teenage girl is physically abused by an authority figure, a young woman is groped, women are kidnapped for implied sex slavery, reference to a past suicide attempt, drug use, some crude language.