The Amelia Academy: Standards [Review]
First off, I’d like to preface this review by saying that I don’t usually review self published books (this article does a good job of summarising the reasons why), unless someone sends me one that has such a really interesting sounding premise that I just have to read it, to see what it’s all about. The Amelia Academy: Standards by Paul Mundane (available, for the time being, in ebook formats only) was one such book. When I received my free copy of The Amelia Academy to review, I loved the novel’s central concept (it’s centered around a superhero school run by washed up ex-villains and sidekicks) so much that I couldn’t bring myself to turn it down. Fortunately, I made a good decision, because The Amelia Academy is a fast paced action adventure sprinkled with genuinely funny comedy that, aside from a number of editorial and grammar errors present throughout, should appeal to fans of urban fantasy or superhero stories.
The Amelia Academy: Standards is a light hearted urban fantasy novel that tells the story of Chris Stand, a retired superhero’s sidekick who once fought to protect the world as Kid Standard. Chris is happy living a life of comfortable obscurity until he is offered a teaching position at the prestigious Amelia Academy (a school for kids with super powers) by an ex-supervillain and is dragged headfirst back into the world of crime fighting and spandex tights. What follows is an action packed, fast paced adventure with memorable characters, adequately written fight scenes and a comedic tone that pokes fun of both superheroes and the “kids with powers” sub genre that Paul Mundane’s debut novel falls into. If you’re into these things, you’ll find The Amelia Academy to be a very enjoyable read, as it’s packed full of all the standard tropes of superhero/comic book stories and the way the author deconstructs and parodies these tropes should draw a chuckle. Paul Mundane’s writing style is well suited to portraying the type of light hearted adventure in The Amelia Academy and, for the most part, he does a good job of telling a funny, entertaining story.
In terms of story and characters, The Amelia Academy is an engaging read, with a fast moving plot that doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep up with and characters that each have their own personality and amusing quirks. Unlike most superhero stories, there isn’t a lot of backstory to The Amelia Academy and it never becomes too convoluted to undermine the easy going tone. Anyone who enjoys the urban fantasy genre will probably find this book very easy to get into. However, there are some parts of the book where weak writing shows through and doesn’t do the story justice. Occasionally, Paul’s prose is a little too fast paced and some of the more interesting parts of the story get skimmed over as the storyline quickly moves on to the next action scene or joke (the chapters, at least in my PDF copy, are also very short, typically coming to 2 – 4 pages in length). Other times, the characters’ dialogue reads a little awkwardly, doesn’t come across as natural, or just doesn’t seem to gel with the situation at hand. It would have been great to see certain aspects of the story fleshed out a bit more and the dialogue made to flow better.
As a self-published book, The Amelia Academy also suffers from some minor editorial errors, such as missing or misused punctuation (this is usually evident in passages where a comma is needed to break up the flow) and although these didn’t make the story less enjoyable to me, there are a considerable number of them and readers who are bothered by grammatical mistakes might be put off by them.
Bottom line: if you like superheroes and you like jokes about superheroes, The Amelia Academy: Standards could be something you’ll really enjoy. I enjoyed my time with it, despite neither urban fantasy nor superheroes being among my usual genres. It’s reasonably entertaining and genuinely funny and, being available in all ebook formats for $0.99 (at the time of writing), it’s a worthy purchase for a few hours of fun, providing you can overlook a little lack of polish.