Review: FAILSTATE / by John Otte

Failstate / by John W. Otte
Marcher Lord Press (April 1, 2012)  ISBN 978-1935929482
HS (Adult) Grades 8-12 Rating: 4

Failstate by John Otte

John Otte pens an intriguing novel about two brothers competing on a teenage reality show, where the winner becomes an official licensed superhero.

In Failstate, Robin and Ben join other contestants on Who Is America’s Next Superhero?  The brothers live in a world where superheroes are governed by regulations. Without a license, superheroes are limited to what they are legally allowed to do.

Ben is Gauntlet. He wears blue spandex with a rising star on his chest, and wins over the females with his good looks. Robin, on the other hand, is Failstate. He wears a scruffy grey sweatshirt and worn-out cargo pants, hardly the image of superhero. Ben looks the part while Failstate can barely control his powers. But when a fellow competitor is murdered, Robin tries to prove he is not a failure by finding the murderer.

Failstate had good character and plot development. Everything seems to come easily to Gauntlet (Ben). Meanwhile Failstate (Robin) struggles with bitterness and unforgiveness when Gauntlet gains success. They learn from each other and to value each other.

Otte writes an engaging comic-book novel without the comics. Even the cover has a comic-book feel to it. In fact, one is slightly disappointed that a few illustrations were not included. Still it is a good read and one can picture this book as a movie!

While there is some violence, none of it is graphic; all of it is expected in a world where superheroes are battling evil. With its short chapters, comic-book feel, a mixture of humor, light romance, mystery, and adventure, Failstate is the perfect read for teens.

Disclaimer: Book reviews are my opinion of books I either purchased or received free of cost from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Carol R. Gehringer


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