Hoods: The Beginning (Hoods #1) by David Niall Wilson Book Review

Write on: Mon, 02 Mar 2020 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 2471


Superpowers are real in a world that has, otherwise, not been exposed to them. It's more Heroes than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The supernatural and other forces exist in this universe but they have successfully kept superpowers a secret from the rest of the world. Certain people are born with them, like our protagonists, but they have no experience with them. Four teenagers, Weaver, Cami, Shooter and Combo, each find out they have superpowers and decide to use them in order to fight the rising crime problem of San Valencez.

A heads up before this review: I've worked with David Niall Wilson before on previous projects and know him online. He's a great guy who does a lot for independent authors and the literary horror genre as a whole. So, if you think that compromises any review I might make, please feel free to skip this. However, if you think I can put that aside and review the work fairly then please continue. I am a huge fan of superhero prose fiction and am always eager to check out what I think is potentially the next new thing. Will this be? I think that depends largely on where they follow up from this book but I enjoyed it a great deal.

What I liked about HOODS: THE BEGINNING is that it is solidly a street level superheroes story. The enemies are a bunch of street gangs that are tearing up their neighborhood rather than supervillains, aliens, or monsters. Fans of the urban fantasy novel Heart of a Dragon (also by David Niall Wilson) will recognize the gangs as the same ones feuding there but this is years later. The protagonists are untrained and unskilled in their powers while their enemies have guns. It's not just a matter of beating them up, though, even if they could. In a nod to realism that rarely gets mentioned in superhero media, the protagonists can't make their enemies go to jail unless they provide evidence that would require them to identify themselves--not an option in their present circumstances.

I really like all of the protagonists and think they're a wonderful collection of believable teenagers. Each of them have a very distinctive personality and different attitude to the world. The differences between the heroes feel grounded in their upbringing, home environments, culture, and attitudes. My favorite of the characters is Weaver who is a teen genius that might be on the autism spectrum as well, struggling to relate to her teammates even as she also excels at her attempts to be a comic book superheroine.

San Valencez feels like a (mostly) real city and gave me the impression of being an alternate version of San Fransisco the way that Metropolis and Gotham City are alternate versions of New York. Its ethnically diverse and manages to avoid a lot of stereotypes while being the same for the protagonists. It's not a big overwhelming part of their characterization but it is part of their characterization and that just adds to the sense of realism. This is a very "grounded" story and that benefits it a great deal. Too many superhero novelists, myself included sometimes, go crazy without bothering to put the characters first.

The action and dialogue feel believable in the stories as does the world the characters are in. As stated, this is very much a "street level" story and more like the origins of Spider-Man or Batman rather than anything else. It reminds me a bit of The Runaways (the comic not the band) with the characters slowly coming together and playing off each other's weaknesses.

The book is a bit on the short side, being just about 165 pages and almost a novella but I still enjoyed it greatly. So much so that I also bought it in audiobook format and listened to it after finishing the initial book. It's not a flawless book beyond its short length but I found it entertaining and that's all I really wanted. I am looking forward to picking up the second volume when it comes out.

Available Here

Last modified on Monday, 09 March 2020 07:59
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.