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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Tess has Solstice Syndrome, a mysterious disease that’s slowly killing her. She doesn’t have much longer to live, and there’s no way she’s going to let her last view on earth be the sterile walls of her hospital room, not when there’s a spectacular meteor shower she can watch instead. Tess checks herself out of hospital and heads to Thatcher State Park to watch the sky, and maybe to die. She passes out and, when Tess wakes up, the Solstice Syndrome is cured. With an unexpected new lease on life, Tess heads home to Weyland with hopes of reconciling with her sister, Bethany. Tess’s life quickly becomes complicated as she struggles to find a way to convince Bethany to leave her abusive husband, worries over the girls who’ve gone missing close to her dodgy neighbourhood, and becomes just a little obsessed with the masked vigilante cleaning up Weyland’s streets. There’s also the matter of Tess’s new ability to absorb whatever she touches.
Although Superhero Syndrome: Solstice Survivors Book 1 by Caryn Larrinaga doesn’t shy away from the ugly realities surrounding a variety of issues, from the risks involved in walking down the street in a bad neighbourhood to human trafficking, the tone remains light throughout. One of the major contributing factors to this is the 'snort out loud' humour that flows through the story. Tess is such a relatable character in both her strengths and her flaws, which is an important distinction. Female leads across the fantasy genre usually end up sacrificing key personality traits in order to ‘toughen up’ for their heroic role, resulting in cold caricatures with brittle confidence. In contrast, Caryn Larrinaga keeps Tess’s characterisation consistent throughout Superhero Syndrome. This book was entertaining from cover to cover, and virtually impossible to put down.