Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep

Title: Karma Girl
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Bigtime #1
Pages: 360
Publisher: Berkley
Date Published: May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Source: Library

Bigtime, New York, is not big enough for both Carmen Cole and the superheroes and ubervillains who stalk its streets. An intrepid reporter, Carmen's dedicated her life to unmasking the spandexwearers, all because her fiance turned out to be a superhero, and a cheating one at that-sleeping with none other than his nubile nemesis. Exposing the true identities of the nation's caped crusaders and their archenemies has catapulted Carmen from her sleepy southern hometown to the front pages of the country's biggest newspaper, The Exposé. Hobnobbing with millionaires and famished fashionistas is all in a day's work for a woman on the trail of the Fearless Five and Terrible Triad. But when Carmen gets the scoop of her career, her life comes crashing down around her. And even Bigtime's sexiest superhero, Striker, may not be able to save her.

My Review:
Holy Awesomesauce Batman! We've got a winner here! :) This is a paranormal romance, but with a twist. The paranormal creatures are super heroes! It's the Incredibles meets Sex and the City and I had SO much fun reading it! It's just so original. I can't believe that there aren't more superhero novels out there... I mean I guess that world is dominated by comic books but I love me some spandex hotties too! Superheros, Ubervillains...everything is so campy and! And let me tell you, Karma Girl maximizes on the cheese-factor. It's making fun of comic books, superhero blockbusters, and comic nerds everywhere, but was so funny, endearing, and loved to make fun of itself and I totally adored it!
Carmen was a really great character and she was super likable and relatable. She's driven by her tortured past to be the bad guy for superheroes and ubervillains alike, unmasking anyone that she can sniff out's identity. I just love how real Carmen was. You get a real feel for who she is as a person, and she's got all the insecurities, past hurts, feelings, and hopes that a real human would have. Even things that normally seem silly, like struggles with appearance, seemed to endear Carmen to me. I mean, in a world where all the heroes have rock hard abs and even the weakest ubervillian can play football with a semi-trunk, it's easy to be a little insecure about your saggy arms and stomach flab. The best thing about Carmen though, was her brains. She's super smart and uses her wits, mad detective skills, help from friends, and her own special brand of intuition to find the tiny details that lead to the unmasking of all her hits. I loved seeing a smart, really likeable heroine without all the snark and snappy comebacks that usually come with a Paranormal or Urban Fantasy novel.

So the book begins on Carmen's wedding day. She's been feeling off about how her relationship with her fiance has been and decides to have one last chat with him before the wedding. Turns out that the bad luck that comes from the groom seeing the bride before the wedding is nothing compared to the bride seeing her hubby-to-be, pants down with the maid-of-honor wrapped around him tighter than a garter. Even worse, among the discarded bridesmaid gown and tuxedo, there are two slips of spades...turns out that not only were the two doing it behind her back, they are also the town's superhero and ubervillian! So what does a woman scorned do? Reveal their secret identities to the world of course! Flash forward and Carmen's built a career off exposing the supers. She's got a great job, is rolling in the money, and everything seems to be going her way...until one of the superheroes, Tornado from The Fearless Five,commits suicide after she reveals his identity, turning one time fans into screaming attackers and protesters outside her apartment.

Now Carmen's been sentenced to the celebrity and hoity-toity socialite beat of the paper and instead of having fame and fortune, she's hated by nearly everyone in the city. Not only that, but her ability to track down and unmask superheros has attracted unwanted attention from the Terrible Triad...the ubervillain trio of Bigtime and they want Carmen's unique brand of skills. So they kidnap her. The succeeding events read exactly like a comic book with diabolical threats, mad-scientist like tendencies to experiment first and ask questions later, and of course lots of monologuing out of the villains. They let Carmen go with the orders to unmask the rest of The Fearless Five or else she will become the victim of the Triad's latest toxic waste experimentation program.

Enter Striker, superhero extraordinaire. And he's definitely that little extra above ordinary! He's sexy as hell, has that traditional superhero six pack I was talking about earlier, has a leather suit that does EVERYTHING justice, and is strong, just, true, loving...gosh I could just go on and on and on! Unfortunately, the superhero that committed suicide? Yeah...he was one of Striker's best friends and a member of the Fearless Five. Talk about star-crossed romance! Still, I actually really enjoyed their relationship and how they fell in love. It seemed like they were both kind of shocked to find themselves falling for the other, and then there was the usual fighting against true love before finally falling into each others arms.
Of course, if you don't like your heroines angsty with a side of fries, you may find Carmen's guilt with Tornado's death and then inferiority complex when it comes to Striker's smexy muscles a tad irritating. I know I did. Around the fifth time Carmen said something about her belly bulge compared to Striker's washboard Abs I was like..Honey...if it bothers you so much JOIN A FREAKING GYM! Maybe then you can compete with those muscley people you've been obsessing over for the last ten pages..
Lol...sorry for the picture...I just had to. If fits so well with the corny but likable nature of the story. Like I said, the cheese factor was huge in this book. You half expected someone to be like..."GALLOPING GRASSHOPPERS BATMAN!" at every turn. You also had to suspend your disbelief just a tad. We all do it in superhero movies...i.e. No one EVER knows that Clark Kent is superman even though his disguise is a freaking pair of glasses...It was a little frustrating in book form though because even though I could tell you who every member of the Fearless Five were( with one main exception) from about the third chapter, it took poor Carmen until more than halfway through the book to figure things out. Still, it was really fun in the same way that comics and superhero blockbusters are and I would recommend it for pretty much everyone! The one thing that may bring the campyness-to annoyance with some readers is the names of all the characters. They were ALL alliterated. I.E. Sam Sloane, Carmen Cole, etc. For me, the names added to the story. I enjoyed how cutesy everything was...but that being said a more...snarky...reader might find them irritating beyond belief...
I give Karma girl a solid 4 Keys! Leaning to 5! I loved pretty much everything about this story. Even though it was a tad corny, you kind of expected it from a story that is usually told in comic book format. There was excellent dialogue, fabulous plot lines and even the imagery really helped you get into the superhero blockbuster mindset. This was my second taste of Jennifer Estep. I read her Mythos Academy series a few months ago and I have to say that I love her adult writing much more than her Young Adult stuff. Maybe it's because the adult work doesn't seemed dumbed down or that there seems to be much more originality in the worlds that she writes for her adult series. 


  1. Oh wonderful!! I do want to get to this series. It sounds like great fun and awesome read. :) Thanks for the wonderful review and reminding me I need this one. :)

  2. This sounds wonderful! Haven't come over the concept before, I really have to try it! Thank you for writing such a great review :)