To the Fifth Power - Shirin Dubbin I really enjoyed this, but wish there had been more worldbuilding.

full review

I love comics and superheroes. so when I saw To the 5th Power, I really wanted to read it. I’ve had good luck with other Entangled Ever Afters, too, so I was quite eager to dive into this one. I enjoyed it a lot. The world building was a little weak, but for a novella, I wasn’t expecting a highly detailed explanation behind all of the super powers the heroes possessed. Instead, this is a kick ass adventure, following Zola on her path to rediscovering herself. The romance wasn’t as prevalent, with the focus instead being on Zola’s battles with the escaped villains. The tension between Fort and Zola is nicely established, though, and because Zola is so strong, Fort’s character was painted with the complexity to deal with her. He’s a stubborn, strong-willed man, and he has to be, or Zola would call all of the shots, and that’s just a little boring.

Fort approaches Zola and requests her assistance recapturing three escaped criminals that were under his care. They are all powerful, convicted murderers, and insane. Sounds like fun, huh? Zola is still suffering from a mental breakdown after her sidekick was murdered in front of her. She is consumed with guilt because she couldn’t protect and defend one of the people closest to her, and she blames herself for his death. Every second of the day. She’s hung up her superhero costume and is trying to be a “normal” person, though in her case, “normal” is far from it.

Fort was her psychiatrist, and he tried to put the shattered pieces of her mind back together after her breakdown. Zola doesn’t trust him, and she knows that he’s not giving her the whole story about the escapees, but she’s attracted to him so she’ll at least hear him out. When the villains attack her one after the other, she is thrust into survival mode. She is forced to pick up her super powered persona, to fight for the lives of all she holds dear. Will the battle cost her her already fragile mind?

To the 5th Power is basically a comic book in prose. I loved it. Despite some occasional confusion at some awkwardly explained background, Zola’s race to recapture the bad guys and save herself at the same time was impossible to put down. She is a legendary superhero, suffering from a complete, and quite possibly, permanent, mental breakdown. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with heroes (or villains, for that matter), but she still feels obligated to protect the citizens around her. She is grappling with serious, overwhelming issues, and it made for a compelling read. How can you be expected to save the world when you are two steps away from being committed to the insane asylum?

While there is a romance between Zola and Fort, this is primarily an action read, with an engagingly damaged protagonist. I hope we can visit with Zola and Fort again in the near future.

Grade: B/B+