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Have you ever played a game where you choose which super power you’d like to possess? Have you ever imagined what it might be like to fly at the speed of sound, walk through walls, lift up cars, or create electricity with your bare hands? What would you do if you woke up one morning and were actually able to do one or more of those things? And what would you do if you had always had those powers and woke up one morning without them?

That’s kind of what happens to the kids of Noble’s Green, Pennsylvania, the self-proclaimed “Safest Town on Earth.” Part of why Noble’s Green is so famously safe is that all of its residents under the age of 13 have one or more super powers. Some are terrifically strong or fast, several can fly, others can disappear, and still others have superhuman senses. When a house starts on fire or a car drives off a bridge, the kids are on the scene, ready to save the day however they can.

Having super powers is a blast: flying is a total thrill, and the games of hide-and-seek are taken to a whole new level. So it’s especially sad that, on the night of each young superhero’s 13th birthday, his or her powers --- and memories of ever having them --- are sucked away forever. Why do the kids of Noble’s Green have these powers? And why do they disappear faster than a speeding bullet? These are mysteries that are beyond even the powers of the super kids.

Help comes from the unexpected source of decidedly un-super Daniel Corrigan. Daniel and his family move to Noble’s Green to be with his grandmother while she’s dying from cancer. It takes Daniel a few days to realize that there’s something a bit odd about his new classmates and neighbors, but when he learns their secret and hears about the mysterious disappearance of their special skills, he thinks that he might be able to help. A whole bunch of children, including superhero extraordinaire and leader of the pack Eric, are about to turn 13, leaving the town open not only to the tyranny of super-powered bullies but also to a host of natural and man-made disasters.

Since his father is a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Daniel knows how to use his powers of deduction and observation to solve problems. Combined with his super friends’ unique powers, can Daniel uncover the mystery of the menacing Shroud who sucks away super powers?

This is Matthew Cody’s first novel, and it marks the debut of an appealing new talent. With its fast-paced action, rapidly shifting plot, and focus on superheroes and detectives, the book will appeal to both girls and boys, and is a great choice for comic book fans who claim they don’t like novels. Although there are moments of humor and plenty of suspense throughout, POWERLESS --- like many of the best comic books themselves --- also contains dark undertones that might get children thinking about making friends, growing up and taking responsibility. But most of all, it is a rollicking adventure yarn that will have kids longing for super powers of their own.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 5, 2011

by Matthew Cody

  • Publication Date: April 5, 2011
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0375844899
  • ISBN-13: 9780375844898