A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dysasters is the first in a planned superhero-fantasy series by the mother-daughter team behind the popular House of Night Other World series. It's sprinkled with black-and-white illustrations, graphic-novel style. Violence mostly involves teens and adults with superhero abilities using air, water, fire, and earth to cause large-scale destruction like tornadoes and hurricanes. Blood and dead bodies are mentioned a few times but not described in detail. A man makes a sexually suggestive remark to a teen girl while rubbing his crotch in a scary, tense scene. A dog is set on fire with a safe resolution. Lots of positive African American representation as well as of a loving, interracial adoptive family with strong family bonds, and a positive representation of a transgender teen. Sexy stuff is mostly a few kisses briefly described, one illustration of a kiss, an instance of thinking about sleeping arrangements, and one of something being dirty but not in a "good, sexy way." An adult is addicted to magical crystals. There's lots of strong language including "f--k," "d--k," and being "p---ies."
What's the story?
THE DYSASTERS are a new team of superheroes: four pairs of teens who come into their powers on their 18th birthday. Each pair is tied to one element: air, water, fire, or earth. This series kickoff introduces us to Foster and Tate, who are tied to air, and Charlotte and Bastien, whose element is water. Chasing the four teens down in order to take them back to a secret island to be experimented on are Eve, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These four are chafing under their scientist-father's demands and long for the freedom that bringing new, young blood to his island laboratory will grant them. But how far will they go, and how many have to be hurt so that they can be free? And can The Dysasters find and get to the others before Eve and her brothers get to them?
Is it any good?
Fans of superhero stories will enjoy this newcomer to the genre, but a few shortcomings may keep it from winning new fans over. Gamma radiation, parental loss, a mad scientist, a touch of romance -- The Dysasters has plenty of classic superhero building blocks. But readers who find those elements more cliché than classic may have a hard time putting up with the trite dialogue and predictable storyline.
It's almost as if the story's being told in the wrong medium. It feels like it should be a graphic novel, or better still a movie. The illustrations are relatively few, in black and white, and fall a little flat, which may prevent fans of one genre or the other from crossing over. Still, it's great to see such an even distribution of racial representation on both the hero and villain sides. As we get to know the characters, they become more realistic and easy to relate to. There's still a lot of story yet to tell, and for fans to look forward to.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the strong language in The Dysasters. Is it realistic? Is reading the words different from hearing them at school or in movies, games, videos, etc.? What are your values, and you family's values, when it comes to strong language?
What character strengths and life skills do the main characters have? What do you like about them? What are their weaknesses? Who's your favorite character, and why?
If you could choose to be tied to air, water, fire, or earth, which element would you choose? Why? What abilities do you wish it would give you?
- Authors: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Publication date: February 26, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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