“You both wanted to play hero, welcome to the game”
Initialize is a fun, fast paced, superhero action adventure offering entertaining escapism in its finest form.
Emmett is your run of the mill college student. Struggling to stay awake during classes and dreaming of tinkering with gadgets every afternoon, hoping that one day it will bring him closer to being what he has always dreamed of a superhero. Tuned into a world full of capes and masks, Emmett must put his ambitions of superpowers aside in hopes that maybe some tech will come along letting him have just a taste of the glory.
Every afternoon Emmett makes his way to the house of Doctor Venture and his daughter Clara to assist in checking and maintaining various pieces of technology. He is getting more and more frustrated that he is tasked with the same old jobs daily; what could they possibly be hiding from him? After asking too many questions he is shut down and sent home. Is he getting too close to their secrets? Perhaps there is more to their operation than he was initially led to believe.
When Emmett is caught up in a freak accident Doctor Venture has a choice to make, let the boy die or give him everything he has ever wanted. Make him a super. When Emmett awakes days later, new and improved, he is thrilled with the new developments, gaining powers he never thought were possible. But it is true what they say, be careful what you wish for. Suddenly the young lad is thrust into a world of powers, manipulative hero harnessing conglomerates and dangerous villains. Emmett has found more than he bargained for; everyone is hiding something, even the people he trusts the most.
I will be the first to admit that superhero stories are not my favourite, but I will also be the first to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Initialize. The story was a fun, yet unapologetic love letter to the sub-genre, the pacing was excellent and the characters all offered something new to the book.
Fleming has done a great job of leaning into the tropes of superheroes that make the genre enjoyable, while adding something of their own flare along the way. This made for a comforting yet fresh read. From the wearing of capes through to some epic training sequences including some incredible powers, the reader is easily sucked in and invited along for an adventure. One of my favourite sequences was a game of tag that riveled some of the great tag games of my youth, only you know .. with powers which made it that much cooler.
It is also worth mentioning just how well the pacing helped to set the readers’ expectations. Being action heavy, sometimes a story can get lost in the need to keep the pace snappy and full of new elements for the reader to discover. I think the author has done a superb job of balancing the entertainment with slower moments where needed. It was able to keep the pages turning without sacrificing the importance that the characters themselves bought to the overall story.
Speaking of characters, I really enjoyed how the author was able to introduce new powers and build up the conflict through side characters. Normally I will get sidetracked by a side character and want to know more about them, in Initialize they did exactly what they set out to do. Emmett would come across new supers and learn from them. They were able to build up the intrigue, conflict and add a practical element to the training that just made sense for the story. As the reader, I very much appreciated why they were on the page without feeling the need to know everything about them.
I will admit there was one element of the story I am not sure I understood or, I am not sure why it was there to do with a transformer like character, but I am wondering if that may not come to fruition in future installments.
Overall, this was super fun (see what I did there), and a great pallet cleanser read. If you like superheroes, give it a go, and hell, even if you don’t or don’t think you do, maybe give it a go anyway. I am certainly not mad I gave it a shot.