This is a well written story. It follows Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Clark Kent and another character named Willi through several years in the '30s. The stories are separate for the most part, but interweave throughout.
My biggest problem with this, it's boring. Clark Kent is almost the third or fourth lead in the novel. Superman doesn't really even make a front and center appearance until around page 350. Before that, it's basically innuendo and second hand recounts. It's a solid story, but when reading a Superman novel, you have certain expectations, even with an origin story. This takes entirely too long to get started and almost lost me in the middle. The last 100 pages or so are the best part of the book.
You'll enjoy the book, I guess, just go into knowing it's a REALLY slow burn type of story.
I am a huge Superman fan, and I loved everything about this novel. I also enjoy the 1930-40s as a historical setting, so it's like this book was tailored for me. I cannot recommend this novel enough. While it was admittedly very important to me that De Haven get the iconic core of the character "Superman" right, I also think this book could be enjoyable to someone unfamiliar with all the Superman lore. There's a lot of American history intermingled with the story of Clark Kent growing into Superman. This works no two levels: illustrating why two boys during this real-life era felt the need to invent a character like this, and what about Superman makes him, to this day, a sort of American institution.
In this novel, Clark Kent is only one of several characters who grows into themselves. Characters like Lois Lane and Lex Luthor parallel original characters like Willi Berg, who becomes a unifying element for the individual threads to the story. One of the things I really loved about the book was that every single character, from major to minor, seems to work extremely hard to "become" who they are by the end of the novel. While their upbringing contributes, and so too do their circumstances, somewhere in their life-journey is the definitive choice or choices that sets them on the path they lead. If you believe in an old-fashioned American ideology that reinforces ideals like the fundamental power of choice, the possibility of struggling toward a better future, the self-made man, and the capacity of each of us to be extraordinary in our own ways, I recommend this novel. It's both a richly layered and an entertaining read.
The ending drags but this is an excellent retelling of Superman's origin. There is some seriousness to it, making references to the Depression, fascism and lynchings, but the overall tone is pure pulp. Not a lot of action, in fact, Superman really doesn't show up until the last 100 pages, but still a great read and I kind of wish they made this into a movie instead.
I'd have sworn I wrote a review of this one. Time to rectify the matter. And no, I haven't read it recently, but it made a strong and favorable impression on me.
I picked this one up from PBS back in 2009 or so based on recommendations by acquaintances and fellow bibliophiles at rpg.net. It was completely worth it.
I loved it. For the voice and eye for the period. Makes me want to go get my copy of The Continental Op out and re-read it. I particularly enjoyed the strong sense of period that it got across and the way it made the character's (well-known and otherwise) into fleshed-out inhabitants of the Depression era. The book features more than just Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen (though Jimmy gets sneaked in there in a very neat way), but lots of historical figures as well.
It was oddly fun for a book on Superman's origin to be set during the era he was actually created. Partly for the author's eye for detail and feel. Part of it is because that detail, the other is that De Haven approaches Superman not ironically, or with sacrosanct reverence, but as larger than life and makes it work. What really makes it work is that he's respectful while he's doing it.
Likes: Eye for detail; feel for the period; inclusion of historical characters; respect for the characters; willing to work with the origin in a new way.
Dislikes: Covers old ground.
Highly recommended for comic book and Superman fans.
Wow, this is a different telling of the superboy/superman telling. More adult. Clark smokes, drinks, and has sex. He lusts after women, has fears and self-doubts, and ambitions. Overall, an entertaining read.