Review: Enemies & Allies: A Novel By Kevin J. Anderson

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Enemies & Allies is out in paperback today from It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. The novel is written by New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson. Anderson has written 50 national bestsellers and has been nominated for the Nebula Award and the SFX Readers’ Choice Award among many other awards. Enemies & Allies is set in the 1950s, a time when people were scared of Communist and extraterrestrial aliens. The Cold War fear of nuclear weapons was dominant in both the US and the USSR. In such a troubling time, the world needed a hero. They got two.

The story is about a young Bruce Wayne who has given his life to fighting crime. You know the story. This Batman is in his early years, but he is no amateur. He has tech, but it isn’t the mind blowing things some writers give the caped crusader. He has computers with cathode ray tubes, a small laboratory, a fingerprint collection, and a car and jet of course.  We also have a young, but already established in Metropolis, Superman. He works at the Daily Bugle, but he is still trying to figure out the whole humanity thing. Besides the two iconic heroes, the story also balances plots with Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. These are all connected as you could imagine.

Bruce and Clark meet early on in the story when Clark interviews Bruce for a piece for the paper. Save for that meeting, the two’s stories run parallel very rarely crossing paths other than a few choice encounters. Bruce Wayne likes James Bond novels, and there are definitely Bond overtones to some of Bruce’s actions. Bruce finds himself in a world of corporate espionage. Wayne Industries is having problems with Luthorcorp. Superman is trying to figure out humanity and the upper limits of his powers. Lois is on the trail of a hot story that will reveal just how bad Lex Luthor is. Lex is trying to corner the Cold War arms market and make sure his business is booming.

The story is very much set in the 1950s. There are some historical liberties taken, but it does a very good job of capturing the time. Anderson captures the pop culture and political scene brilliantly. Though the book is about the first meeting, the meeting doesn’t take place for quite some time. The Metropolis gang gets the lion’s share of the book space, but that works for the most part as Bruce is off in the shadows lurking and brooding. With the Cold War tensions, the emergence of these two heroes, and the mystery of Area 51 and a mysterious green rock that renders Superman powerless, there is a lot of room to explore.

Bottom Line: The book plays up the first meeting of these two heroes slightly more than actually takes place, but the book is very enjoyable overall. Anderson captures the characters perfectly and mixes in enough nods to the comics to please fans. With the Cold War, Area 51, and the 1950s as a whole, Anderson has a lot of room to craft a great period piece. While reading it, I could picture it playing out like a movie with Adam West and Christopher Reeve. This is a book for everyone, but you’ll get much more from it if you’re a history fan.

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