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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Bystander 27 by Rik Hoskin review



Official Author Website
Pre-order Bystander 27 over HERE(USA) or HERE (UK)



AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rik Hoskin is an award winning writer of novels, comic books, animation, video games and audio plays. He won the Dragon Award for Best Graphic Novel for “White Sand” in collaboration with Brandon Sanderson, and has also written comic books for Star Wars, Superman, Doctor Who and many others. He has written almost 30 books, the majority under the pen name James Axler, and has been head writer for a video game. He has written animated stories for BBC Television in the UK.

FORMAT: Available on August 11, 2020, in paperback and ebook format. Cover art by Angry RObot's in-house designer Kieryn Tyler.


REVIEW: As a lifelong superhero genre fan, I’m thrilled to see fresh ways in which people twist it. Bystander 27 shows the world of vigilantes from the perspective of a bystander whose life was destroyed by superhumans doing their usual stuff (fighting, saving the planet, and more).

After witnessing a gruesome death of his pregnant wife during a super-powered battle, Jon Hayes’ becomes obsessed with superhumans. He tries to understand who they really are and why his wife died. His investigation reveals something weird - the crowds of spectators across multiple super fights are always the same people. He even spots himself and his family in recordings of such fights, in places they’ve never visited.

Hayes tries to uncover who calls the shots, and to exact his vengeance. Nothing in Bystander 27 is as it initially appears. The book contains at least a few layers of misdirection. It took me half its length to figure out what was going on and the other half to work out what it might mean. 

In terms of theme, the idea is clever and flexible. It presents superheroes as a threat to normal people trying to live their lives. It fits into a fashionable trend of deconstructing the subgenre. Of course, Hikman isn’t the first to do it. Garth Ennis’ The Boys series changed people’s approach to the subgenre and its staples.

As a former SEAL, Jon has a lot of hidden skills, and he uses them to find the truth. Hikman captures, convincingly, his character’s paranoia and obsession but doesn’t develop him as much as I would like. Defined by his neuroses, and badass past, he remains two-dimensional. Fortunately, other things make up for it. Thanks to quickly paced plot and plenty of meta content, I finished the book in two sittings. 

Bystander may seem basic in its premise, but it packs a strong and divisive twist near the end of the book. I didn’t like it and it soured my experience. I can see readers loving it, though. I don’t like characters interacting with their creators, that’s all. And I’ve probably said more than I should have. 

Anyway, Bystander 27 has great pacing, plenty of action, and it packs a few nice twists. It doesn't break new ground, but it feels fresh. Worth a read.



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