Stand-In by J.S. Frankel

Stand-In by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (230 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Bill Grissom, seventeen, doesn’t have long to live, and when he’s given a second chance as a substitute for his counterpart in a parallel universe, he jumps at the chance to become the Golden Guardsman.

Things go well at first. Along with Veil—Charlene Thompson, Matter-Man—Anders Nixon, and Monolith—Martin Bollock, the other members of the group, they dispense justice wherever it’s needed.
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However, Matter-Man’s insistence on getting paid for a job well done doesn’t sit well with Bill, and he becomes jaded and cynical about working for the Collective. To Matter-Man, and to the other members of the group, it’s all about the coin.

As well, more and more super-criminals start to appear, and when Bill discovers who’s coming and more importantly, why, he learns that being a hero involves more than simply dispensing justice. It’s all about living up to the ideals of being one—something that could cost him his life.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

The world building made me smile. There was a great deal of effort put into showing how superheroes in this universe were different from the ones that some readers might be expecting. For example, they weren’t universally liked for reasons I’ll leave up to other readers to discover for themselves. Explaining and exploring details like these brought this world to life for me. No sooner would one of my questions about how everything worked would be answered than a couple more would spring into place. It was a great deal of fun to figure all of this out.

I found the pacing of the beginning of this book to be slow. The main character had plenty of explaining to do about the world he lived in and the alternate universe he was about to discover. As intrigued as I am by superheroes, I found it hard to get into Bill’s story because of how slowly everything happened in the first several chapters.

The fight scenes were nicely written. I’ve been reading Mr. Frankel’s stories for years now, and his approach to writing about this sort of conflict has evolved in all sorts of interesting ways since I was first introduced to his stuff. It’s been a great deal of fun to see the different techniques he uses to describe what is happening in them and how he approaches a conflict that has multiple folks jumping into the fray all at once. I look forward to hopefully reading more of these scenes in his future work!

Stand-In should be read by anyone who likes superheroes.


  1. […] What I’d Ask Them: When can we expect your next book? I haven’t heard anything new from you since Stand-In. […]

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