The world’s safest town might actually be a deadly kind of dangerous. And Nica Ashley is about to learn the hard way.
Nica Ashley is accustomed to traveling the globe with her journalist mother, so when she gets sent to live in a small town with the father she barely knows, she’s in for a bit of a culture shock. Barrington prides itself on being a sleepy, family community with the lowest crime rates in the state of Colorado. There’s even a private security force run by Barrington Technology (BarTech) and a nightly curfew for all residents.
On Nica’s first day at school, she meets Jackson Winters and finds out he went from school superstar to living ghost after his girlfriend disappeared a few months ago. When Nica follows him out after curfew one night, they both witness a mysterious green flash—and the next morning the power has gone out and all the birds are dead.
But secrets are well and alive, and as Nica and some of her friends discover they now have abilities best described as “super,” they also realize that Barrington might not be so safe. And that BarTech is looking for them.
The birds were dead.
I’m saying that every single bird in town had died, like in some cheesy horror movie.What had happened in Barrington looked random at first. A few small bodies here, several more there… enough that I noticed them lying on the ground. Lifeless. Their glassy black eyes just staring up at nothingness…
Four very different teens team up to fight the corporation that owns their too-perfect town. Sixteen-year old Nica has traveled the world with her journalist mom since she was a baby. Sophisticated and self-sufficient, she resents her mother’s decision to send her to live with her doctor father in his little Colorado town. At first, the kids in her new high school treat her with almost too much friendliness, except for Jackson, the handsome bad-boy loner who cruises the streets at night in his classic Mustang GTO. She quickly becomes friends with nerdy Oliver, and then they find a link that brings Jackson to their side: All three have developed superpowers as a result of a strange atmospheric disturbance that occasionally engulfs the town. However, heavy security at Bar Tech Industries forces the trio to keep their investigations discreet, especially when Nica discovers that her father works with Bar Tech, doing tests on the town’s high school students. When unstable Maya also develops a superpower and joins the group, no one can be sure that she’ll keep quiet. In his first novel, screenwriter Kruger keeps tension high as he folds superpowers into a standard but exciting beat-the-evil-corporation plot. Characterizations are varied and not too deep, and there’s some romantic tension foreshadowed for the sequel. Readers looking for suspense will find it and should enjoy the ride. (Science fiction. 12-16)
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Review Date: 2013-08-26
When Nica Ashley’s mother travels to Antarctica for work, Nica is sent to live with her estranged father in the small town of Barrington, Colo., a far cry from the lively overseas locations she’s used to, like Bangkok. Barrington is a Stepford community, with a nightly curfew, private security everywhere, and disconcertingly friendly residents. Nica’s travels have helped her hone her observation skills, and she soon discovers the town’s bizarre secret: nearby Barrington Tech is conducting strange experiments, which somehow imbue Nica and several other teens with superpowers. Forming an unlikely alliance with a peppy cheerleader named Maya, geeky Oliver, and rebellious love interest Jackson, Nica sets out to get to the heart of a mystery that started before she was born, while aware that Bar Tech is ruthlessly hunting those with powers. Though Nica’s voice is at times stiff, screenwriter Kruger brings big-screen sensibilities to his debut novel. Comic book tropes, conspiracy theories, intrigue, and romance all come together, fleshed out with memorable characters. Ages 12–up. Agent: Margaret Riley, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.)
Writer and Producer of 4400, Mark H. Kruger has released his debut young adult novel, Overpowered. About a teenage girl, Nica, who has spent her life following her journalist mother all across the globe. Only to find herself dumped into Small Town USA to live with her father while her mother is on assignment in Antarctica.
As one tends to discover upon moving to a small town, the biggest secrets fester in the smallest towns. Even with Nica’s limited association with American schools it doesn’t take her long to figure out that something in the town of Barrington, Colorado and its high school don’t seem to make sense.
It didn’t take me long to power though the 400+ pages of this book. The writing is engaging and the pace is quick. The main characters are all written very differently, from the perfect cheerleader to the rebel to the science enthusiast, and I love how they’re brought together under the mysterious circumstances involving the strange green flash and the ever-lurking BarTech.
I’m always on the lookout for fast paced sci-fi books that I can easily devour in a few days and this is definitely one of those. It’s got an interesting mystery that can be easily invested in without being too heavy a story. There will, no doubt, be a sequel.
I give Overpowered Four Out of Five Stars.