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They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded

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Award-winning author James Alan Gardner returns to the superheroic fantasy world of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault with They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded. Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven't even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up Award-winning author James Alan Gardner returns to the superheroic fantasy world of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault with They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded. Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven't even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up in the hunt for a Mad Genius's misplaced super-weapon. But when Jools falls in with a modern-day Robin Hood and his band of super-powered Merry Men, she finds it hard to sort out the Good Guys from the Bad Guys--and to figure out which side she truly belongs on. Especially since nobody knows exactly what the Gun does . . . .


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Award-winning author James Alan Gardner returns to the superheroic fantasy world of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault with They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded. Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven't even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up Award-winning author James Alan Gardner returns to the superheroic fantasy world of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault with They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded. Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven't even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up in the hunt for a Mad Genius's misplaced super-weapon. But when Jools falls in with a modern-day Robin Hood and his band of super-powered Merry Men, she finds it hard to sort out the Good Guys from the Bad Guys--and to figure out which side she truly belongs on. Especially since nobody knows exactly what the Gun does . . . .

30 review for They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded

  1. 4 out of 5

    Luana

    'They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded' sees the return of our newly sparked superheroes (or at least group of friends who are pretty sure they want to fight for the side of light and heroics but haven't quite come up with a team name or defining goal yet - the latter is something that they really should do before 'The Light' starts assigning one to them as sometimes 'The Light's' assigned goals can get a wee bit rabidly all consuming and somewhat blind to any collateral damage). Its been a few 'They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded' sees the return of our newly sparked superheroes (or at least group of friends who are pretty sure they want to fight for the side of light and heroics but haven't quite come up with a team name or defining goal yet - the latter is something that they really should do before 'The Light' starts assigning one to them as sometimes 'The Light's' assigned goals can get a wee bit rabidly all consuming and somewhat blind to any collateral damage). Its been a few days from where they last left off and they have successfully negotiated their first encounters with Darklings (Supernatural/magic empowered persons, such as vampires and demons, who are the rich echelons of society and thus pretty much run most of the world), Mad Scientists and their fellow Sparks (where the Darklings are magic empowered, the Light offers its champions powers based on superscience - which are nearly as grounded in reality as magic to be honest). Right from the beginning of this book, it is Jools, biology student and hockey nut turned the epitome of human potential, and her quest to prevent a Mad Scientist's bazooka from either falling into the wrong hands, or being the cause of great unpleasantness and chaos, whose story we are following. We do get to have a good rounding out of her other team mates but this one is definitely her tale. Fortunately, not only is she an entertaining character in all her hard drinking, self doubting, worried about turning into a Mad Scientist but also heartfelt, upfront and basically funny ways, but she also serves to transition this book exceedingly well into one that works as a standalone adventure. I really appreciate how the author was able to do this while avoiding the perils of info dumps. In fact when it comes to balance James Alan Gardner shows an adept hand in a few areas including: a type of decently momentum pacing that still leaves room for reveling in character interactions and their own internal conflicts of self; a novel that is all about superheroics, explosions, demons and goblins, and humour but which also addresses more serious topics such as consent issues and gender representation. And with all of these the integration is smooth so that it feels naturally part of the story. In a snippet of an interview below James Gardner explains how one of his new characters is introduced (whom I really hope becomes a recurring character as she is utterly intriguing) and in it we can see how the socio-reality of this character just became easily integrated into the story: In They Promised Me The Gun Wasn’t Loaded, my favorite bit occurs early on. But first, some background. The book takes place in a world like our own, except that most rich and powerful people are Darklings—vampires, were-beasts, or demons. The power of the Darklings is counterbalanced by the presence of superheroes: normal people who happened to touch a glowing meteorite or get bitten by a radioactive spider. So basically, the affluent 1% are monsters, and the 99% are protected by a diverse set of random super-folk. The protagonist of They Promised Me is Jools, a university student who gained superpowers in a laboratory accident. In the book’s first chapter, she enters a Darkling hangout…and that’s where my favorite bit happens. Jools is brought to this fancy lounge in order to meet a particular Darkling. However, I didn’t want the place to be empty except for the one guy Jools has to meet. I wanted it occupied by other Darklings, and I wanted to show a wide variety of them. Readers need to understand that Darklings are a diverse lot, representing folklore monsters from around the globe. So I went to my reference books and eventually found Calon Arang, an evil witch-demon from the island of Bali. As is often the case with female “monsters”, some folklorists think Calon was based on a real woman: a popular leader who challenged the powers-that-be. Eventually, they assassinated her, then made up stories to demonize her—saying she ate babies, poisoned crops, spread disease, and all the usual smears to justify why they were right to kill her. So, an ancient Indonesian witch who’s been unjustly slandered for centuries and is likely pissed off about it: I could work with that. Calon was a potentially complex character who’d be far more engaging than some clichéd Western menace. I could even use her as a “noble” Darkling, since I didn’t want to portray all Darklings as unambiguous villains. It’s more interesting if the Dark can be good as well as bad, and you never know which way they’ll go. So Calon Arang became the first person Jools set eyes on when she walked into the Darkling lounge. At first, Calon ignored Jools entirely—Jools wasn’t in her superhero costume, so she looked like an unremarkable nobody. But Jools is always brash, and was unintimidated by her posh surroundings. She stood out; she took no crap from various Darklings, even the Dark usually scare the heck out of normal mortals. In other words, Jools was Calon’s kind of person: a bold young woman who didn’t suck up to powerful people. Eventually, Jools and Calon started talking. By then, I’d decided that Calon could be useful as a contact Jools could call on when she needed information about Darkling activities. But then, in the course of improvising this conversation, I wrote Calon asking Jools, “What are you doing tomorrow night?” Wait. What? My list of set-pieces included a big Darkling shindig the next night. I had planned for Jools to attend, but until Calon asked her question, I thought Jools would just crash the party. Superheroes always barge into places they aren’t invited. I had no plan for Jools to go to the party as Calon’s “date”. And yet here we were. After that, I had to figure out why Calon asked—it certainly wasn’t sexual. Coming up with a sensible reason led to major plot developments I had never envisioned. If you read the book (as I hope you will), you may be astonished that all the ensuing plot consequences weren’t planned from the beginning. But they weren’t. They arose because I was improvising a conversation between my heroine and someone I thought of as a minor background character. Then the conversation went somewhere that completely surprised me and rearranged the rest of the novel. That’s why it’s my favorite bit. I love it when my plans fall apart. http://maryrobinettekowal.com/journal...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chip

    Four plus stars. The (first) sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, Gardner's new series set in a world just like ours except (a) in Canada, eh and (b) in the recent past the "rules" changed such that both the Light/Sparks (empowering superpowers - and thus heroes and villains) and the Dark (empowering magic, and thus magic-users and magical creatures) exist - often in conflict. It's fundamentally a simplistic concept that in the hands of a lesser writer would likely have turn Four plus stars. The (first) sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, Gardner's new series set in a world just like ours except (a) in Canada, eh and (b) in the recent past the "rules" changed such that both the Light/Sparks (empowering superpowers - and thus heroes and villains) and the Dark (empowering magic, and thus magic-users and magical creatures) exist - often in conflict. It's fundamentally a simplistic concept that in the hands of a lesser writer would likely have turned out mediocre at best (e.g., juvenile thinking re how cool an urban fantasy PLUS superpowers mashup would be, with nothing much on top of that) but Gardner's Dark/Spark thesis and resulting worldbuilding is really well done - as is his characterization, plotting, etc. etc. etc. I was initially concerned (and mildly disappointed) because this book is fully set from the viewpoint of a different one of Gardner's four (newly) superpowered protagonists than in the first book (as, I think, will also be the case re the next two) - but at some point during the reading that concern and disappointment completely fell away. Looking forward to the next two (and glad Gardner is writing again - his League of Peoples books were also great).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    This was a good follow-up. Told from a different characters perspective, but not a re-telling of the first story. It was about as fun as the first, but I didn't like it as much. I think because the main character of this one (Jools) was a little more dark a character than K was, in the first one. Not dark as in "muahahaha I will destroy the world", rather dark as in "alcoholic to cope with my problems." Which, mind you, was done well, it just added a little more seriousness to what was going to This was a good follow-up. Told from a different characters perspective, but not a re-telling of the first story. It was about as fun as the first, but I didn't like it as much. I think because the main character of this one (Jools) was a little more dark a character than K was, in the first one. Not dark as in "muahahaha I will destroy the world", rather dark as in "alcoholic to cope with my problems." Which, mind you, was done well, it just added a little more seriousness to what was going to be (in my head) another fun super hero romp.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    I received a copy of They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded is a sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. However, I never read the first book before I started in on this one, and I had absolutely no trouble following along with what happened. Sure, I likely missed some context, inside jokes, and things like that. But that’s okay, I still enjoyed They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Lo I received a copy of They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded is a sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. However, I never read the first book before I started in on this one, and I had absolutely no trouble following along with what happened. Sure, I likely missed some context, inside jokes, and things like that. But that’s okay, I still enjoyed They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded. From my understanding they followed different characters between the two books anyway, so a new perspective is sometimes all you need to bring in a new fan, right? This is a science fiction novel in its truest form, but it’s also light and chaotic most of the time. It makes for a really quirky and enjoyable read. Especially if you’re looking for a bit of escape from reality. It’s a fast paced plot, with so many twists and turns that I found myself surprised by the setting near the end of the book. I love surprises like that. (view spoiler)[ Warnings first: I mentioned above that most of the book is pretty light, so having the main character get threatened with mind controlled rape is kind of out of left field. Nothing ends up happening (thankfully) but a.) it was pretty upsetting regardless and b.) there’s a clear indication that this is not the first time this particular character has taken advantage of his abilities (or that the character supporting him helped arrange it). It’s upsetting and disturbing on so many levels, and I think it’s made worse by the fact that nothing else in the book was even remotely that heavy. I really enjoyed reading They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded. Despite how long the title itself is, reading the book didn’t feel nearly so long winded. It’s fast paced, action packed, and has a ton of quirks thrown in for good measure. I mentioned above that I never read the first book. I feel bad about that, but I honestly wasn’t aware that there was a first one when I originally grabbed this to read. I saw the cover and title and was intrigued. And when a series doesn’t number itself…well sometimes I can be easily confused, okay? Despite all of that, I really didn’t have any trouble following along with what was happening. The author did a great job of recapping past events - maybe this would have been too detailed had I read the first, but it was enough to let me understand how the system worked, how the characters knew each other, and so on. The ability set in this series is actually really interesting. It’s kind of superhero-esque, but it’s so different at the same time. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was a refreshing take. Additionally the way the abilities were handled just made the series feel lighter and more jubilant on the whole. Sparks granting power, which includes the ability to immediately hide your identity, from even your best friends, behind a flimsy mask? Sounds like whimsical magic if ever I’ve heard it. But that made it charming. Jools is a fascinating character. She’s totally all over the place. She’s physically perfect at everything – literally. She’s the best human at anything she tries – as long as it doesn’t require her to go past human limits, of course. She’s also a bit of an evil genius scientist, which is all sorts of amazing. Her character took some getting used to, but by the end of the book I was shocked by how protective I felt about her character. The plot was interesting on the whole. It was sort of a blend between the MacGuffin trope and hot potato. This naturally led to a ton of interesting fight scenes as well as plenty of funny moments. The pace moved along at a breathtaking pace, but it fit in well with Jools’ personality. My one complaint would have to be something that happened later in the book. I mentioned it in my warning above. One of the characters, a grayscale character, puts Jools in a situation where she’s about to get mind control raped. By that I mean there’s another character with the ability to make her want to be with him…even if she doesn’t actually want to. The grayscale character promises she’ll ‘want it at the time’ and ‘erase her memory’ afterward. It’s horrifying. Nothing actually happens, thank goodness. But it was so disturbing. What’s worse is that it’s clear that this duo has been doing this to countless other women. I think I would have been more okay with it had Jools taken her opportunity to speak out about it and well…tell the world about it. Instead she covers for them, making them look like the good people. Which in essence allows them to continue doing what they’re doing. I’m disappointed with Jools’ lack of forethought with that one. I’ll be curious to see if there’s going to be another book in this series. I think it has the potential to keep going to quite a while. Especially since they haven’t caught Diamond, who sounds like he’s their biggest adversary (even if we never actually saw him here). In the meantime I suppose I could go back and read the first book… (hide spoiler)] For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.

    Gardner's The Dark vs Spark series has quickly become my favorite recent book series. The stories are set in a world where the 1% have used their money to gain immortality from The Dark and become vampires, werewolves, etc. and The Light has responded by turning random people into superheroes or Sparks. The protagonists are four college roommates in Canada, all different science majors, who gain superhero powers and must work together to try and save protect their town. Each book features a diffe Gardner's The Dark vs Spark series has quickly become my favorite recent book series. The stories are set in a world where the 1% have used their money to gain immortality from The Dark and become vampires, werewolves, etc. and The Light has responded by turning random people into superheroes or Sparks. The protagonists are four college roommates in Canada, all different science majors, who gain superhero powers and must work together to try and save protect their town. Each book features a different first person POV from one of the four team members. This one is from Jools who's the "jock" of the group, and, until she got powers that made her super intelligent, the most academically challenged of the four. Initially I didn't think I would like the shift in narrator, but I thought it was really well done, and Gardner has managed to make the first two narrators sound very distinct. I'm excited to see what he does for the last two. Story-wise we watch Jools get swept up in a heist with a bunch of Sparks who have formed their own version of Robin Hood's band. She does spend a great deal of the novel separated from her friends, which I thought was a shame in some ways, but as the "outsider" in the group, it made sense from both a character and plot angle. The story forces her to start figuring out who she is away from her friends and to discover how she needs them. Just like the previous book, the story is action-packed and full of comedy. I think it's a great satire of the superhero genre, but one that has a lot of heart and doesn't feel condescending or overly critical of anything. I burned through this book super quickly, and I have to say this series is some of the most fun I've had reading in a long time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I enjoyed the first in this series very much; this one a bit less, primarily because of the main character. It was very skillfully done, though, and entertaining. It needed to be skillful, because the author saddled himself with some drawbacks. His characters are all excessively powerful, with several unrelated superpowers, each of which on its own would be enough for many superheroes. The main character of this book, Jools, is "human maximum" in any ability you can name (with exceptions I'll no I enjoyed the first in this series very much; this one a bit less, primarily because of the main character. It was very skillfully done, though, and entertaining. It needed to be skillful, because the author saddled himself with some drawbacks. His characters are all excessively powerful, with several unrelated superpowers, each of which on its own would be enough for many superheroes. The main character of this book, Jools, is "human maximum" in any ability you can name (with exceptions I'll note in a moment); has some sort of internet connection in her head that feeds her detailed knowledge of basically anything that's publicly online (including, oddly, the time and location of a secret party that certainly is not public knowledge); and her body regenerates, Wolverine-style. Oh, and she can manifest a glowing green hockey stick made of energy, and (while in a fugue state) do mad science to create useful tech, like a set of underwear that enables instant changes between civilian and super identities. See? Way too many unrelated, overly useful superpowers. But it's done amusingly, so there's that. I said there were some exceptions to her "maximum human ability" thing. Someone that powerful needs flaws, and Jools' flaw is that she's not the human maximum in wisdom, self-control, or for that matter likeability; in those areas, she's about average for a college-age alcoholic hockey player. In D&D terms, her intelligence, dexterity, strength, constitution and even (in certain circumstances) charisma may all be 18, but her wisdom is somewhere around six. She is, at least, self-aware about it, and does get an arc, which rescued the book for me. In the meantime, I was kept entertained by observations such as "it’s like stashing matter and antimatter in the same suppository. Hilarity ensues," or (from one of her also-superpowered roommates, a chemistry major) "Biology is only chemistry that thinks it’s special." A less skilled writer, working with such a character (both overpowered and annoyingly flawed at once), might have made all kinds of missteps, but Gardner pulls it off. His world, in which the ultra-rich have become literal vampires, werewolves, and demons, and superheroes known as "sparks" are gifted with powers by the Light to keep them more or less honest, continues to be entertaining, the plot is action-packed without being a bunch of stupid fights for the sake of it, and while Jools teeters on the edge of "annoyingly angsty screw-up" a few times, she does manage to tilt over to the heroic side by the end. It seems that this series is going to get one book entirely from the point of view of each of the four roommates, which means that there's not a lot of insight into the others' heads (though that may change when we reach the telepath, I suppose). The other roommates risked becoming cyphers in Jools' somewhat self-absorbed world, even Kim/K/Zircon, who was the narrator of the first book. The whole may end up more than the sum of its parts, though, and I'll definitely be watching eagerly for the next one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raj

    I loved All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault and timed it such that I finished it just as the sequel was released. This book focuses on Jools, another of the four housemates who get caught in a lab explosion and gained superpowers. She's the jock of the group, and the one who's struggling most with her studies. This combination ends her up with immediate knowledge of anything that's part of the corpus of public knowledge and Olympic-level mastery of any human skill. Despite these skill I loved All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault and timed it such that I finished it just as the sequel was released. This book focuses on Jools, another of the four housemates who get caught in a lab explosion and gained superpowers. She's the jock of the group, and the one who's struggling most with her studies. This combination ends her up with immediate knowledge of anything that's part of the corpus of public knowledge and Olympic-level mastery of any human skill. Despite these skills, Gardner paints a skilful picture of a young woman who's good at giving the appearance of confidence and having it together but who is actually a bit of a wreck and is now struggling with a degree of inferiority compared to her superpowered teammates. Oh, and she's also afraid that she's turning into a Mad Genius who will stop caring about the devastation that her potential inventions could wreak. And that she's got a drink problem. The Darkling siblings Nick and Elaine return in this book, albeit more for an extended cameo than anything else. The blood bond between Elaine and Kim (now just K, having moved further toward the non-binary part of the spectrum) is used to drive the plot forward, and there is, of course, the eponymous gun. Believed to be created by Mad Genius Diamond from the first book, it's very much the definition of a macguffin. The Spark world is expanded as well. In addition to Grandfather and Invie, this book introduces us to the Aussie All-Stars and Robin Hood and his gang of Merry Men, a group of outlaw Sparks who rob the rich (Darklings) and (allegedly) give to the poor. Jools gets caught up with them and struggles to keep herself right. (view spoiler)[The whole potential mind rape thing is rather disturbing, even if nothing happens to Jools. The idea that not only does Robin do this to other women, but that it's facilitated by Marion is icky. Those were the most intense chapters of the book for me, when Jools is beset all round and separated from her teammates, having to rely entirely on her own resources (which are more than she gives herself credit for). I almost punched the air when Zircon finally turned up. (hide spoiler)] I'm thoroughly enjoying this series and a quick tweet to the author assures me that he's already at work on the next one (Miranda's book). This one is perhaps slightly not as good as its predecessor, but it's still a highly enjoyable read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    EscapistBookReviews

    Summary: This is a sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. It follows a different member of the super-team, but tells a similar type of story, in which the protagonists deal with a superhero-level crisis, while the viewpoint character sorts out their personality problems and grows as a person. Anyway, the POV character in this one is Jools, whose power is “being human-max in everything but not actually super in anything.” Before becoming super, she was something of a fuck-up, a Summary: This is a sequel to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. It follows a different member of the super-team, but tells a similar type of story, in which the protagonists deal with a superhero-level crisis, while the viewpoint character sorts out their personality problems and grows as a person. Anyway, the POV character in this one is Jools, whose power is “being human-max in everything but not actually super in anything.” Before becoming super, she was something of a fuck-up, and this, combined with a sense of not measuring up to the other supers on the team, gives her a deficiency of self-esteem and a penchant for alcohol abuse. (Or what would have been alcohol abuse before she became super.) She gets wrapped up in a case involving a super-science gun, and spends a good chunk of the book separated from the rest of the team. Thoughts: This is another case of “if you liked the first one, you’ll probably like the second one.” The relative degree of enjoyment is mostly down to how you feel about the narrators: if you like Kim better than Jools, you’ll prefer the first book, and vice versa. I do think this is readable without having read All These Explosions; there’s enough explanation of backstory, but why would you bother? Content note & minor spoiler: there is a scene late in the book where the protagonist is threatened with mind-control rape, in order to convince the reader that a morally-grey antagonist is really a Bad Person. She escapes before anything _really_ unsavory goes down, but I found that trope to be very out of place in what is otherwise a very light and entertaining take on the superhero genre. Not cool, James Alan Gardner; -1 penalty to escapism and overall rating. Escapist Rating: 3/4 Recommended for: People who read and liked the first one Dis-Recommended for: People who didn’t like the first one, People who are completely done with the use of rape as a cheap plot device, even if it is just that one scene.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian H

    What starts as light-hearted enough to qualify as an entertaining comic-booky novel, ends up showing enough gravitas to sucker-punch some really interesting ideas about superheroes, supervillains, and how each manipulate each other (and the public at large) while being manipulated themselves by the Light and the Dark' ageless conflict. (view spoiler)[Seriously, Maid Marian's talk with a depowered Jools and the latters' late insights (as well as her genuine terror when trying to escape the 'Heroi What starts as light-hearted enough to qualify as an entertaining comic-booky novel, ends up showing enough gravitas to sucker-punch some really interesting ideas about superheroes, supervillains, and how each manipulate each other (and the public at large) while being manipulated themselves by the Light and the Dark' ageless conflict. (view spoiler)[Seriously, Maid Marian's talk with a depowered Jools and the latters' late insights (as well as her genuine terror when trying to escape the 'Heroic' Robin and his mind-rapey Halo of seduction) are among the best meta-fiction, meta-narrative, or meta-heroics I've read in a long while. (hide spoiler)] Can easily recommend this one, as well as its prequel, to any graphic novels fans itching for a different read on superheroics. One can only hope the author has another entry (or even two more, as Aria and Dakini still lack their turn under the spotlight) in this Spark/Dark universe under their pen.

  10. 5 out of 5

    JoeK

    As with the first book, this was a lot of exciting fun. The story is from the perspective of Jools (Julietta Walsh) AKA Ninety-Nine, the hockey super-hero. As with the first story, most of the action happens to our viewpoint character, but in this case, even more so. Jools' team-mates hardly get any screen time, which means that Jools' development as a character is really the focus. Gardner does a good job of expanding his universe while still shoehorning in some relevant social commentary, part As with the first book, this was a lot of exciting fun. The story is from the perspective of Jools (Julietta Walsh) AKA Ninety-Nine, the hockey super-hero. As with the first story, most of the action happens to our viewpoint character, but in this case, even more so. Jools' team-mates hardly get any screen time, which means that Jools' development as a character is really the focus. Gardner does a good job of expanding his universe while still shoehorning in some relevant social commentary, particularly about non-conscientual sex. As a Canadian, having a super-team based in Waterloo is fun and tickles me to no end. Reading the acknowledgements at the end reveals that there is no Kitchener in this alternate universe. Most Ontarians think of the hyphenated Kitchener-Waterloo when they think of the area so I'm surprised I didn't pick up on the fact until it was pointed out to me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tim Fiester

    Four-plus stars. The book's story was a lot of fun, with some great twists. My only complaint is the protagonist: It was tiresome hearing that she's "Olympic-level" in every little thing she does (for example, chemistry, lock picking, and so on), which meant that most things weren't all that hard for her (this was the same complaint I had about the protagonist of "Ready Player One"). Luckily for the reader, Jules has the common sense of a 10-year-old with the libido of a teenager; this is what m Four-plus stars. The book's story was a lot of fun, with some great twists. My only complaint is the protagonist: It was tiresome hearing that she's "Olympic-level" in every little thing she does (for example, chemistry, lock picking, and so on), which meant that most things weren't all that hard for her (this was the same complaint I had about the protagonist of "Ready Player One"). Luckily for the reader, Jules has the common sense of a 10-year-old with the libido of a teenager; this is what makes the story interesting to read. Her well-intentioned decisions have some tremendous consequences for her and her roommates/superhero teammates. We'll see what happens in the next book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Bourke

    The second installment in this series focuses on another member of the Waterloo Spark team, Jools, giving us a different perspective on the whole new super hero situation. Jools is a louder, brasher voice than Kim (now K) was, but she struggles just as much with her identity, especially the whole who she was vs who she is now paradox. This series is exactly the type of scifi/fantasy I like. Not overly serious, relatable characters, and tackles modern subjects, like gender identity, in a respectfu The second installment in this series focuses on another member of the Waterloo Spark team, Jools, giving us a different perspective on the whole new super hero situation. Jools is a louder, brasher voice than Kim (now K) was, but she struggles just as much with her identity, especially the whole who she was vs who she is now paradox. This series is exactly the type of scifi/fantasy I like. Not overly serious, relatable characters, and tackles modern subjects, like gender identity, in a respectful and realistic way. Entertaining and fun, I highly recommend both books.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Henry Lazarus

    love fun tales of superheroes and James Alan Gardner delivers in a second tale of Jools and her friends who became super in a world with darklings like vampires and demons and sparks. They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded (ebook from Tor) tells of a bazooka possibly created by the supervillain Diamond. Robin Hood and his gang want to steal the device, and their capture of Jools, somehow puts her in the middle of the theft. With lots of super fighting and impossible odds, Jools confronts her ad love fun tales of superheroes and James Alan Gardner delivers in a second tale of Jools and her friends who became super in a world with darklings like vampires and demons and sparks. They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded (ebook from Tor) tells of a bazooka possibly created by the supervillain Diamond. Robin Hood and his gang want to steal the device, and their capture of Jools, somehow puts her in the middle of the theft. With lots of super fighting and impossible odds, Jools confronts her addictions. I hope there’s more. Review printed by Philadelphia Free Press

  14. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Clarke

    Another fun ride from Gardner - lots of explosions and fighting. Gardner does a great job in both books dropping the reader into the action right away. It did not grip me as much as the first book did. Jools is a great character to see events through, but I was not fully convinced about her character. There's a long piece of action in a totally different place that didn't wow me. Even so, I hope there are more volumes. I want to see the undergraduate female superhxxxx sparks ride again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Gottschalk

    The title was possibly the best ting about this one. It's a superhero / fantasy story with a weak plot and strong female cast. If you enjoy superhero comics and are into teenage fiction, this one might pass muster. If you are a self respecting adult, save yourself some time and give this one a miss. Regrettably there were no redeeming features or hidden depths this time around. They say you can't judge a book by its cover but this time you can.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    It was nice to get the perspective of a new hero from the first book. The constant spiraling off topic/plot and the relentless "I'll do X cause I'm an Olympic level X-doer" was draining, but if you can get past that (which is easier in print than via Audible, but i managed), than you'll experience a great story of self discovery and some dope super hero action scenes. 3.5/5

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Luiken

    Canadian superheroes! Just as much fun as book one All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault. This time around we get a different narrator: Jools, who of course has a different superpower than Zircon in book one though they are part of the same superhero team. It took me a little while to adjust to Jools, but I was strongly hooked by her Mad Genius blackouts. Good action scenes.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I wasn't sure about the first book in the series, All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, but thought I would give They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded a go and I really liked it. It has a light feel with a nice sense of humour. Looking forward to the next one in the series.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joan Wendland

    This follow up to All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault continues the fun at breakneck speed. Gardner continues to deliver with expert pacing and a boundless imagination. Looking forward to more sequels!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brian Gaston

    I don't think this type of book can be written much better. I give in a 4.5 just short of "one of the best of all time" which is my 5 rating. The characters are engaging and the creativity of inventing super powers is great; the humour is spot one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    June

    When you read this novel, it feels like the author had a lot of fun writing it..and I had a lot of fun reading it. It is a welcome change of pace.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alana McCool

    This is a really fun book. I love 99 and her powers. Happen she is the most best human, but she is still really weak a lot ways. But that make her very interesting. I hope the next book comes soon.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    This series is shaping up to be a lot of fun. I look forward to book three!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hilary Williams

    excellent followup to the first in the series. Be keepng a lookout for the next one.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Breane Ross

    WOW! I read the first book and loved it but this book is even better. Definitely recommend it!!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bibliobabe

    LOVE this series!! And in a rare case, the second one was even better than the first!! Such great characters, funny but also thought provoking. Like Sparks, this book is more than what you see!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Benich

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jake Alper

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

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