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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. 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

  2. 4 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.

  3. 4 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.

  4. 4 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hilary Williams

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

  9. 5 out of 5

    Breane Ross

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

  10. 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!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jake Alper

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristian Glass

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gustavo

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason P.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard Campbell

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Benich

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hobart

    This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- When I read the first book in the series, All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, back in January, I said "the sequel can't get here fast enough." I didn't quite expect to be reading it 11 months later, but I'm okay with that. It's just a couple of weeks after the events of the previous book, and the newly formed team of superheroes has gone home for Christmas break. Now with just a few days before classes start up again, the team This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- When I read the first book in the series, All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, back in January, I said "the sequel can't get here fast enough." I didn't quite expect to be reading it 11 months later, but I'm okay with that. It's just a couple of weeks after the events of the previous book, and the newly formed team of superheroes has gone home for Christmas break. Now with just a few days before classes start up again, the team is coming back. In the last book we focused on Kim/Zircon, this time our protagonist is her roommate/teammate Jools/Ninety Nine. Jools doesn't even make it out of the airport before she's dealing with the police and a powerful Darkling -- and maybe a powerful Spark artifact. (Quick reminder: In this world there are two super-powered groups: the Darks/Darklings and the Sparks. The Darks are all the supernatural-types you can think of (and some you can't): vampires, weres, etc. The Sparks are Super-Heroes and the like (although some have gone astray)) Jools, with a little help from her friends, gets out of that mess -- only to find herself signed up for more. Soon, in an effort to keep this artifact from falling into the wrong hands -- Jools finds herself cut off from her friends and in the secret-hideout with a very maverick group of Sparks -- a modern-day Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This gives her an opportunity to watch other Sparks in action, to see how they live and think -- and come up with some ways to evaluate her new lifestyle. Also, there's a lot of fighting and nifty tech to read about. I wasn't crazy about how little time we got with the rest of the team because of this, but I think in the long run, it'll work for the strength of the series. And when we get the team together again, it's even better to see than it was before. Again, I had a blast with this book. Gardner's world is ripe with story-telling possibilities and I'm enjoying watching him develop these characters and this world. Jools is a great character -- a solid combination of vulnerable and snarky, unwise and ridiculously intelligent -- you'll probably end up with her as your favorite character in the series (at least until book 3). Go grab this (and the other one, too) now.

  20. 4 out of 5

    NoSanninWa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott Berfield

  22. 5 out of 5

    Connie Hirsch

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Ruffolo

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Gian-Cursio

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Gardner

  27. 5 out of 5

    RTuesday

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alberta

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Culley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

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