9 reasons reading Secondhand Origin Stories (by Lee Blauersouth) should be on your priorities

Hey there, readers*!

* Assuming that I have any, and if that’s the case, further assuming that you’re not yet totally sick of the blog tours I’ve been organizing. But, to be fair, it’s not my fault that there are tons of books out there that deserve more attention and love! [End of digressing]

If you’ve cared enough to peruse through my tweets, then you should be more than familiar with the book featured in the #SHOSPH blog tour – largely because I’ve been babbling about how much I adored it. Now, in the marginally tiny chance you’re completely unaware of what particular book I’m referring to, allow me to provide more details:

Last March 15th, Lee Blauersouth released their debut novel, Secondhand Origin Stories – or perhaps more helpfully, the latest book I’ve been obsessing over. By some miracle, luck was on my side and I was given the incredible opportunity to organize a blog tour for Secondhand Origin Stories, which was an endeavor I took very seriously. If there’s anything you need to know about me, my dear readers, it’s that I actively champion for what I believe in, especially when it comes to books. And I believe [Aang can save the world] that Secondhand Origin Stories is a brilliant, relevant novel you need to get your hands on!

But I digress. The blog tour for Secondhand Origin Stories (or more simply, the #SHOSPH blog tour) will run from today until the 27th of April. With twenty-eight (28!!!) participating bloggers, this is actually the biggest blog tour I’ve ever handled. Which isn’t actually saying much because I only started organizing stuff like this last October – but still, I’m feeling pretty accomplished.

Anyway, I am extremely thrilled and excited to see how this all progresses, especially because I am working with some of the most amazing bloggers! You can easily keep up with us and join in on the fun by visiting participating blogs (refer to tour schedule below!) and by stalking the hashtag, #SHOSPH, on Twitter.

To officially kick things off, let me enumerate nine reasons reading Secondhand Origin Stories should be your immediate priority. All right, here we go!

[1] DIVERSITY AND (VERY) MUCH NEEDED REPRESENTATION.

From the book’s cover alone (which was, by the way, designed by the author!), it is pretty easy to figure out that Secondhand Origin Stories features a diverse cast. A diverse cast of what, you ask? Superheroes!!! (Do you hear that? That’s the sound of my Marvel trash self, squealing hysterically from a sizable distance.)

Although the book largely features one of the most respected superhero teams in Chicago (i.e. the Sentinels), the actual story revolves around the lives of four teenagers who are superheroes in their own way: Opal, whose superpowered dad was unjustly locked away in prison for saving someone; Isaac, the brilliant son of the Sentinels’ leader who likes toying around with brain-altering technology; Yael, whose exceptional superpowers and distinct appearance can be traced back to a long-dead supervillain; and Jamie, the only unsuperpowered individual in the gang but totally makes up for it with fierce determination and loyalty.

I won’t delve into specifics because they’re best discovered on your own, but as the story progresses, we eventually learn that a lot of the characters, including some (or all??? – hmm) of the four leads, actually identify as LGBTQ+, POC, and PWDs. In fact, my favorite superhero from the Sentinels is gay and black! (My hysterical screeching intensifies.) There is a lot of much-needed representation in this book, and each representation is handled sensitively, realistically, and thoughtfully.

Seriously though, let’s make superheroes from minority groups and marginalized communities an official trope because they’re definitely the toughest and most resilient people out there!

[2] SUPERPOWERED FAMILY DRAMA AND GENUINELY ADORABLE FRIENDSHIPS.

All the characters in Secondhand Origin Stories are wonderfully complex and interestingly unique, but the dynamics of their relationships with each other and among one another are equally, if not more, fascinating!

When Opal arrives in the Sentinels’ residence, she finds a family that is more significantly messed up than she anticipated. Who knew superheroes had surprisingly normal family squabbles? Well, as normal as normal can get for a family of superheroes, that is. Still, to me, a number of the family interactions made me feel like I was witnessing the behind-the-scenes of Disney’s The Incredibles — except, unlike Frozone, Opal isn’t the only person of color around.

Speaking of whom, despite being the most recent addition to the group, Opal’s friendships with Yael, Jamie, and surprisingly, even Isaac developed quite quickly and nicely. The more I read, the more I cheered this group of friends on! They’re honestly too cute and precious.

[3] IMPRESSIVE WORLD-BUILDING AND TERRIFYING TECHNOLOGY.

As a sucker for superhero stuff, I really like the world-building in Secondhand Origin Stories. From the origin of people’s superpowers to the application process an aspiring superhero needs to pass in order to be admitted into a team (and subsequently, get government approval to legally save lives), there are a lot of details involved in shaping this world. Thankfully, all this truckload of information is explained pretty neatly and effectively, which allows for the total appreciation of the world’s complexity.

As mentioned earlier, Isaac – genius that he is – habitually experiments with brain-altering technology, which can either be progressively useful or unspeakably evil, depending on who’s in control of it. And that’s just one of the many technological advances introduced in the story! Imagine an artificial intelligence that eventually develops its own consciousness and self-awareness. Should we be frightened shitless or naturally intrigued? Imagine people being genetically altered in order to transform them into superpowered individuals. At first glance, it seems like a total dream come true, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from reading this novel, it can just as easily become an absolute nightmare.

[4] HINTS OF MYSTERY AND INTRIGUE.

Cue shifty-eyed emoji here. Let’s just say that there seems to be a myriad of secrets just about everywhere – among the teenage superheroes, within the family, in the government (i.e. Altered Persons Bureau), and in the superhero business itself.

[5] POLITICALLY AND SOCIALLY RELEVANT THEMES.

After reading the book’s synopsis, I was anticipating that the story would touch on systemic corruption at the government level – and lo and behold, Secondhand Origin Stories delivered a whole lot more!

Given our current social and political climate, whenever I unexpectedly encounter a book that explores ideologies and phenomena that are noticeably parallel to the real world as we (unfortunately) know it, my little heart just sings. Now, more than ever, it is insanely important to raise awareness on the ills and issues of contemporary society, especially with regards to those from the elite classes who reap far too many advantages from societal structures that unreasonably favor them (all the while exploiting and/or oppressing the rest of the population!).

I cannot stress how much I love Lee Blauersouth for bravely tackling systemic issues – such as racism, stigmatization of disabilities, class inequalities, and other forms of marginalization – with a ferociously blunt and critically sharp voice. I especially love how the intersecting of different inequalities and struggles was clearly highlighted in the book.

[6] PERSONAL, INDIVIDUAL-CENTERED THEMES.

In addition to the larger issues in #5, Secondhand Origin Stories also delves into more personal (but definitely just as important!) struggles such as the difficulty of embracing one’s identity, opening up and trusting others, admitting weaknesses and limitations, and overcoming feelings of uselessness. Self-discovery, self-esteem, and self-identity are all tackled in a beautifully profound and empowering way.

[7] THRILLING ACTION SEQUENCES.

I won’t lie. This is nothing quite like Marvel’s Captain America: Winter Soldier or Black Panther. I honestly would not describe this book as “action-packed” because personally, I thought the story was more substantially concentrated on the characters and their respective developments, which is not a bad thing at all. Nonetheless, in the limited handful of action scenes in Secondhand Origin Stories, the sequences totally packed a punch! I loved them.

[8] MORALITY, MOTIVES, AND AGENCY.

Character motivation has always been an element that unfailingly piques my interest, especially when circumstances the character is dealing with aren’t strictly black and white. There is a lot of that in Secondhand Origin Stories. I found myself constantly questioning everyone’s motives and trying to gauge which of them were morally right – and while I was doing this, I more or less realized that superheroes are just as inherently flawed as un-superpowered people. It’s a realization I often tend to overlook because I’m too busy worshipping the ground the Avengers have walked on – I’m pathetic and (not totally) ashamed – but I digress. Having powers does not come with all the right answers to the universe. Superheroes don’t hold a monopoly over moral righteousness. This idea is explicitly shown time and time again throughout the story.

Similarly, superpowers and exceptionally unique abilities aren’t always a necessary component of being a superhero either. And this, too, is exhibited multiple times in the story!

Which parts am I referring to? Who is allowed to be a hero? Better grab yourself a copy of Secondhand Origin Stories to find out!

[9] WHAT, THIS IS JUST THE FIRST BOOK???

Secondhand Origin Stories is just the first book of Lee Blauersouth’s Second Sentinels series – and let me tell you, if Book 1 is phenomenal and utterly compelling, I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing the sequel will be! After the completely satisfying ending (which may or may not have caused a few tears to spring up in the corners of my eyes), I am very much looking forward to reading more of Lee’s work.

What exactly can we expect in Book 2 of Second Sentinels, you ask? Stick around and wait for my interview with the author! The post will be up on the last day of the blog tour.

For now, reward yourself for having enough patience to read this annoyingly incoherent, unnecessarily lengthy post by (1) adding Secondhand Origin Stories on Goodreads and (2) purchasing a copy via Amazon! Come on now, don’t even think twice. You deserve it.


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

23 April (Monday)

24 April (Tuesday)

25 April (Wednesday)

26 April (Thursday)

27 April (Friday)


MORE ABOUT THE BOOK

Synopsis:

Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.

But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a supervillain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?


MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After about a decade of drawing comics independently or with small presses, Lee started writing prose out of a combination of peer pressure and spite, then continued out of attachment to their favorite made-up people. They live in Minnesota even though it is clearly not a habitat humans were ever meant to endure, with their lovely wife/editor, the world’s most perfect baby, and books in every room of the house.

If you like categories, they’re an ENFJ Slytherin Leo. If you’re looking for demographics they’re an agender bisexual with a couple of disabilities. If you’re into lists of likes: Lee loves comics, classical art, round animals, tattoos, opera, ogling the shiner sciences, and queer stuff.


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Published by

Shealea

First of her name. Queen of millennials and the constantly caffeinated. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

13 thoughts on “9 reasons reading Secondhand Origin Stories (by Lee Blauersouth) should be on your priorities”

  1. All these nine reasons are so on point, Shealea! I couldn’t agree more! The diversity is so vast and clearly not just for the sake of it, if you get what I mean. And complex family relations are such a great way to develop the characters; it was definitely used well. Reading about siblings is sometimes just the best thing for me because I’m an only child so Yael and Jamie were these perfect siblings I would crave forever. Thanks a ton for the opportunity to read this book ❤

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