Saturday, 25 November 2017

Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts is a novella set in the same universe as her short story "Cookie Cutter Superhero", published in Kaleidoscope, and the novella Kid Dark Against the Machine. You don't have to have read the earlier stories to enjoy or understand Girl Reporter, but the characters from the earlier stories show up and provide minor spoilers for their backstories.

In a world of superheroes, supervillains, and a machine that can create them all, millennial vlogger and girl reporter Friday Valentina has no shortage of material to cover. Every lottery cycle, a new superhero is created and quite literally steps into the shoes of the hero before them--displacing the previous hero. While Fri may not be super-powered herself, she understands the power of legacy: her mother is none other than the infamous reporter Tina Valentina, renowned worldwide for her legendary interviews with the True Blue Aussie Beaut Superheroes and her tendency to go to extraordinary lengths to get her story.

This time, Tina Valentina may have ventured too far.

Alongside Australia's greatest superheroes--including the powerful Astra, dazzling Solar, and The Dark in his full brooding glory--Friday will go to another dimension in the hopes of finding her mother, saving the day, maybe even getting the story of a lifetime out of the adventure. (And possibly a new girlfriend, too.)

This novella was a positively delightful read. It blends Roberts' humour with social commentary on the state of superhero fiction and various contemporary issues, especially those surrounding representation. Additionally the novella is so Australian it hurts (in a good way). Despite the alternate universe setting, Roberts finds plenty of opportunity to engage with modern Australian culture and hark back to the Australian culture of the 80s and 90s. I expect there will be some references that non-Australians will miss, but the novella won't be the worse for it. And everything really important is explained anyway.

The other delightful thing about this novel is the upbeat and clever voice of Tina Valentina. I will always have a soft spot for snark, but it's also nice to have a protagonist who is pretty upbeat and excited about things, despite some cynicism. Also, Tina drops backstory into the narrative very naturally, whether it's superhero history or about her mother. Roberts has nailed alternate-dimension young Millennial, and I say this as a non-super-dimension older Millennial.

This was my favourite of all three stories in the "Cookie Cutter Superhero-Verse" so far. I hope there will be more. I love the setting and all the characters so far have been great. There hasn't been very much superhero fiction (that I'm aware of) set in Australia and the strong Aussie-ness of the setting really boosts the book into an even more exciting take on superheroes, rather than yet another superhero story set in New York.

I highly recommend Girl Reporter to all fans of superhero stories. It's fun and fresh and full of diversity. Being a novella, it's also a pretty quick read. I can't wait to read more books set in this world.

5 / 5 stars

First published: December 2017, Book Smugglers
Series: Cookie Cutter Superhero-Verse, third instalment of three so far. Stand-alone.
Format read: ePub ARC
Source: review copy provided by author
Disclaimer: Although the author is a friend, I have endeavoured to write an unbiased review
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

No comments:

Post a Comment