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Hush Money, Talent Chronicles 1, By Susan Bischoff

December 5, 2010

Like X-Men but with less cleavage and more to squefully 'awww~!' over.

They call their abilities Talents, and that’s what they call themselves as well. Talents are people born with supernatural powers, feared by the population at large. Possession of an “unregistered ability” has become illegal, and those who are discovered are forcibly removed to government-run research facilities. They do not return.

And so the Talents try, as best they can, to keep their abilities secret–some more successfully than others. For some, keeping that secret begins to define who they are. That’s where Hush Money begins…

Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Those are the rules to live by for seventeen-year-old Joss. She spent years as an outsider, hoping to hide what she is, until the new girl, Kat, decides she’s friend material. Kat doesn’t realize her mistake when she stands up for Joss against Marco, a guy who’s been giving Joss a hard time since freshman year. Joss is horrified when these heroics lead to the reveal of Kat’s Talent. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss. And if all that weren’t complicated enough, Dylan, Joss’s long-time crush, is finally starting to talk to her. But as Marco’s best friend, can Dylan be trusted at all? Can Joss keep her secret and still save her friend? And what’s more important, staying safe or doing what’s right?

While most girls were brought up on Barbies, and My Little Pony, my favorite toy was an old blanket that I’d turned into a cape and took on many of my imaginative escapades. I’ve always loved the Superhero mythos, and while I would never EVER want the comic book industry to go under, I do wish that some of it lent itself more to novels.

Luckily it seems some authors feel the same way I do and that, on top of Lynn Viehl’s fantastic Kyndred series for adults, we also have an exciting new series for Teens thanks to Susan Bischoff.

To be honest, it was the title of the second book ‘Heroes ‘Till Curfew’ that made me take notice of the first. While the cover is lovely, ‘Hush Money’ didn’t make me think ‘Book = Superheroes + Romance’.

Except, having now read the book in it’s entirety, I have to acknowledge the subtle brilliance behind the title. Acknowledge it quietly that is because my no spoiler policy hasn’t changed any.

I was amazed at how so much of the book reminded me of Highschool. In the very first few pages, Susan describes a character trying so hard to get her teacher’s attention that she has to rest her raised arm in her other palm and I just laughed out loud. How many times have I done that? Little tidbits like this really made the book come to life for me. I found myself hella amused in the appropriate moments. I laughed a lot. And yet this is not a light-hearted tale. I think that says a lot for Susan’s own “Talent”.

I  liked the fact that she didn’t try to tone down the language. The characters are put in some high stress situations and well, sometimes, F-Bombs are totally called for. Besides, any parent who claims they weren’t using the same language when they were that age is either suffering from an early on set of Alzheimer or a pathological liar.

Joss, our reluctant heroine, seemed very three dimensional to me. I adored her snark-especially when it was directed at herself. I’m hoping we will get more insight to her family’s back story in future books. The whole ‘military precision’ vibe is just too juicy to have no further explanation and then there’s the whole sub plot about her Father being just a tad unhinged. I’m dying to find out how it all factors in. I wouldn’t say Joss is kick-ass (which I don’t think is a bad thing either way), mainly because she spends most of the novel trying not to use her powers or draw attention to herself in anyway, but she certainly steps up to the plate when she has to. And she’s more inclined to handling her own shit then expecting other people to do it for her, so she’s definitely on my ‘Awesome Heroines’ list.

Dylan Maxwell is recalcitrant nice guy/adorably quirky. I roared with laughter every time his brain went for a walk around Joss and his imagination took hold-I thought only girls suffered those sorts of delusions of grandeur. No? Just me? *Sigh*. Dylan had some great dialogue (and I cracked up every time he thought about Joss’ Dad). I like that Dylan’s not exactly Mr. Heroic himself. None of the Characters are Boy/Girl Scouts. Mainly because they can’t afford to be. Still, like his love interest, Dylan too steps up to the plate when called.

The romance was sinfully sweet. I felt myself going ‘awww’ far more than I am usually wont to do. I felt it developed at a realistic pace given what stood between them. No spoilers, but yikes almighty, and I thought *I* knew that peer pressure was a bitch.

I’m pretty interested in the development of the side characters: The feisty yet charming Kat,  the quiet but courageous Heather, lovable scoundrel/speed demon Eric,  geeky but snarky Rob (Thank you so much for not making him a stereotype and giving him a backbone), and The Twins. There are so many possibilities here and I’m so looking forward to seeing which direction Susan takes them in.

I have to admit I am hoping for a little more action in the sequels. I love me some epic super-powered fight scenes. While I enjoyed the one offered, I felt like it only whet my appetite a bit, so to speak.

Really enjoyable read, and I figure if I’m salivating for Book 2 that can only be a good sign. Definitely recommended if you’re inclined to Superheros, YA, and if you like your YA with a little Superhero para-rom.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 12:32 pm

    Another amazing review!! And another book to add to my ever-growing list!


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