Alliances: A Trick of Light

In November 2018 a legend passed away: Stan Lee. The world of comic book enthusiats mourned. But the master had one last surprise, a book – Alliances: A Trick of Light

The story

Image you were a teenager. If you’re truely one, skip that part.

What is a teenager doing these days? I mean the average teenager with… let’s say some creativity. Such a teenager dreams of having thousands of followers at social networks and if possible to earn a lot of money that way.

To achieve this some take photos of their lunch (breakfast, dinner), their new nail polish or lipstick or other irrelevant and uninteresting things daily. Other try make-up tutorials on Youtube.

Cameron Ackerson is trying videos about weather phenomenons over Lake Erie having 16 subscribers (one of them his mother). No matter what he does, the number would not increase. Until he gets struck by lightning. Literally. During a live stream. This is the moment when he becomes a star and the number of his followers pierces the sky.

Aside from his sudden fame the accident has two more consequences. Cameron meets the love of his life and he’s able to manipulate electronic devices by sheer will. He becomes the undisputed champion of online games by changing the code as he likes. He becomes a fighter for justice. He gets…

…drawn into something far bigger than the daily meanness of highschool bullies, bigger than the hatred spread by far right nationalists. It’s a big deal bigger than this. There nothing less at stake than the survival of mankind.

A comic book without pictures

Alliances is reading fun of a different kind. This is not about an unusual story or unusual characters. On the contrary! One doesn’t need to look for a deep and complex story in this book.

Basically the book tells a common super hero story with a common super hero as we’ve seen and read a dozen times. Cameron is the next door boy like Peter Parker. The lightning replaces the bite of the spider and Camerons power are more intellectual than physical.

Alliances is not a very original story. Here are the good ones, there is the evil. Between them is some mysterious organisation that’s evil too and then again it is not. And when it’s over, there’s nearly a happy ending. Nearly, not actually. It is a bit more complicated for as the evil is defeated, the rest of its kin knocks at the door – a cliffhanger worth a comic book.

The special thing about the book starts with the choice of the tense. Aside from some flashbacks the story is told in the present. This slightly unusual choice demanded a bit of concentration at the first pages.

The present tense gives the book something picturesque. In connection with the not too complicated language it gives the impression of a comic book or a graphic novel. Without drawnings. A comic book is always in the present, the pictures show what is happening right now. Only flashbacks are in the past.

Only the way the story is put to the reader’s mind is reversed. In a comic book the pics build the story. In this book the story creates the pics.

In the same moment the book is a monument conserving the genius of Stan Lee. There are details referencing the work of the Godfather of super hero comic books. No normal teenager would compare the roaring of the thunderstorm around himself to the party Thor must be celebrating right in this moment. They don’t even remember Thor as a divine being.

The genius of Stan Lee is chiseled into stone also by the choice of the here and now as the perspective of the story. Nobody can tell a story that is right now happening. Except Stan Lee, for he’s a watcher.

Mr. We recommends…

…the book mostly to fans of Stan Lee, comic book enthusiasts, SciFi lovers, enthusiastic reades and fans of Stan Lee.

Alliances fits perfectly into the literary pop culture. It is a bit of “READY PLAYER ONE”. It could even be a kind of prequal (just not as deep and complex as Tad Williams’ master piece) to Otherland.

It is easy to see that the author comes out of the world of comic books. The story is straight and not really new and unique. I read such stories quite often in the comic books Mr. Lee is responsible of.

That doesn’t make the story less thrilling. If there is one thing Stan Lee could do, it was telling stories. An there one thing you should not do while reading this book: feel yourselves sure about the story.

Do not fear, Stan Lee isn’t George R. R. Martin. No character is doomed to a sudden and unexpected death. But just as I thought, I knew everything, there came a plot twist that was close to Darth Vader telling young Luke, he’s his father.

But even this twist and the resulting chaos is solved by Stan Lee.

Alliances is no classic and will never be. But it’s worth reading and great fun.

Story:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Style:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Fun reading:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Average:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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