Title: Checkmate Ever After
Author: Lex Chase
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages/Word Count: 314 Pages
At a Glance: An entertaining story with all the necessary elements I expect of a book based on Superheroes.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: The day disgraced superhero Memphis Rook literally fell into Hogarth Dawson’s lap, you could say it was fate. But the brawny Rook did nearly crush Garth’s pancreas. What started as two ships passing in the night ended on the weirdest adventure of their lives. Together, Rook and Garth form Checkmate, a daring super duo that keeps Axis City safe from a rogue’s gallery of nefarious villains, dastardly masterminds, and a coalition of calamity. Fighting evil wherever it appears—from reality shows to comic book conventions—Checkmate serves up knuckle sandwiches of justice. But by day, they’re a couple of broke losers who can barely afford a burger and navigating a weird thing called a relationship. Ain’t true love grand? Rook and Garth may be in over their heads, and even super heroes fail sometimes, but they’re ready to take a stand when no one else will. Don’t hate the players, because Checkmate owns the game.
1st Edition of Pawn Takes Rook published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.
1st Edition of Cashing the Reality Check published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.
1st Edition of Conventional Love published by Dreamspinner Press, 2014.
Review: This book contains three previously published books (Pawn Takes Rook, Cashing the Reality Check & Conventional Love), along with a new novella Miracle in Axis City AND a bonus short, What The Water Gave Me. Rather than individually review each book, in this case I will be reviewing the entirety of the read.
All the stories take place in a place called Axis City, which is home to supers far and wide. Pretty much everyone that lives in Axis City has some sort of superpower. So much that it’s a common thing. Hogarth’s a technopath and his power is kitbashing—which essentially means he can take technology and anything mechanical (as long as there is some form of artificial intelligence) and think up some crazy stuff, and POOF *Robot Car Suit*. Thinking things into creation is no problem, but there may be a little snag on the whole reversing it back part of the equation. Rook’s powers are… Well we know of a couple, and Hogarth thinks there are a couple more, but Rook’s full set of powers is a mystery all around.
We start the adventure with the two of them meeting and Rook crushing Garth’s pancreas. From there, shenanigans ensue and I was along for the journey, watching as they formed their own (illegal) superhero duo, Checkmate, and proceeded to fight dastardly super3.5 villains—who had epically amazing names—in places like evil lairs, reality television shows, and conventions; all the while trying to become licensed superheroes with the Power Alliance.
First off: leave logic at the door because nothing is impossible in Axis City. This book is fun. Just. Plain. Fun. From beginning to end I found myself smiling and sometimes outright laughing. There is literally nothing in this book that broaches seriousness. For a moment or two it looked like it might be about to happen, but out of nowhere a joke or random thought would change the entire moment back to amusing. It was as if the author refused to let the book go down that path. I was completely on board with leaving all seriousness at the door and plunging into the world of Axis City through Garth’s eyes, and I was glad I did.
The story is told from Garth’s POV, and he is just endearing. The kind of clumsy/chaotic/crazy I couldn’t help but adore. Rook is secretive, and we only know what Garth knows, so we get to tag along as Garth is forced to find out about his partner through covert means. I enjoyed being in Garth’s head and the sporadic thoughts that just bullied their way in at random times. His brain was always on fast forward and how he came to his conclusions was nothing short of amazing to watch unfold before my eyes. I’d start out thinking he was going in one direction, and end up with a totally different conclusion than I assumed because of the twists and turns his thoughts took along the way. Garth, with all his sweetness, excitement and insecurities, was the perfect complement to Rook’s quiet, often broody and mysterious ways. Their strengths were different, and that is why Checkmate just worked for them.
Though the book was extremely amusing, I struggled with a couple of minor issues. Timelines didn’t always add up from both past and current situations. Sometimes scenes jumped forward days and there wasn’t any indication of how long had passed until much later, if at all, and I was still thinking a particular event happened right after the previous scene. There were two occasions that after flipping back and forth and doing math in my head, I found it impossible for that particular timeframe to work. A lot of people won’t notice things like that. But for me? I am one of those that have an ongoing timeline in my head, and when I snatch something out of order I keep going back trying to make it work, and when it doesn’t or takes a while to figure out, it irritates me. I don’t like stopping in the middle of a good read to complete a math problem in my head—yet I am compelled to do just that. The other minor niggle I had was the book was almost too fast. The scene switches happened so quickly I didn’t feel I got to savor some of the downtime and digest what was going on, or had just happened, before jumping into the next scene.
That being said, I hope the author enjoyed writing these books and the characters as much as I enjoyed reading them because even with the minor issues, it was truly a great read. These novels had all the elements I can picture needing for a superhero driven book: likeable superheroes, wicked villains, scheming, battles, marvelous names and nifty & unique superpowers. If there are more books planned in the series, I will be there ready to jump back in to the world of Checkmate.
You can buy Checkmate Ever After here: