Special Talents: Goon Squad, Vol. 1
Written by: Jonathan L. Howard
Narrated by: Gabrielle de Cuir
Series: Goon Squad, Book 1
Publisher: Blackstone Audio Inc. and Skyboat Media, Inc.
Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
An ongoing, episodic "prose comic" from which the pictures are summoned by the magic of words, Goon Squad is set in a version of modern-day Manchester. Its biggest divergence from the real city is that it - along with most other large urban centers - has a team of superheroes to protect it against unusual threats with which the conventional forces of law and order would have problems.
Goon Squad, Volume 1: Special Talents is composed of six tales: "The New Girl", "Nightclubbing", "By the Water, by the Grave", "Changes", "No-No Dojo", and "Exterminating Angel" as well as an introduction read by the author.
©2015 Jonathan L. Howard (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc., and Skyboat Media, Inc.
Nadiya has a very special talent. At one time she was part of a minor crime group and earned the name “puppet girl”. Over the past year Nadiya has succeeded in suppressing her skill. Then a quick stop at a local mini-market changes her life. She is present when two young thugs commit armed robbery, knocking an older woman to the floor. Nadiya watches the thugs exit the store and her anger grows. She loses her control and manages to bring down the thugs and hold them until the cops arrive. Nadiya is taken to the police station before she can leave town. She expects trouble but is surprised when a man, who has previously warned her, appears to interview her. Nadiya is surprised to be recruited to an unusual crime group – the special talents force - known to the others as “the Goon Squad”.
Nadiya meets her three new team mates, each with their own special talent. Ian is clearly a “dead man” walking, Gilbert appears to be a geek interested in history, and Tessler is a huge metallic robot. Nadiya isn’t told of their skills, and they don’t learn the full extent of her abilities, until they are suddenly called into action. Although there is some stumbling in the pursuit of the gangsters they are after, the Goon Squad, working together, finally manage to complete their assignment.
Think of The X Men or Marvel superheroes with unusual - as in paranormal - talents. This very fun story starts with an introduction from the author that begins: “Hello, and welcome to the first volume of the Goon Squad saga. I’m Jonathan L. Howard, and I wrote it, so I’m to blame. Sorry about that.” No need to be sorry. I found the characters and stories delightfully fun and the sound effects included in the audio book add to the entertainment. The first story, The New Girl, sets the stage, introducing Nadiya to the squad. "Nightclubbing" is her first experience in the field which could have gone better if she had been prepped. "By the Water, by the Grave" continues the team’s efforts to capture the mobster, Des Garbo, as they track him through a graveyard. "Changes" shares some difficulties that Ian has observed over the years, while "No-No Dojo" gets Nadiya some desperately needed training. In the final installment, "Exterminating Angel", the team faces a truly deadly power that takes some non-human help to overcome.
The characters are developed through the short story collection. The stories fit together like an old time radio serial. The author’s wonderfully creative imagination and humor quickly shine through. I will definitely look to pick up Volume two in the audio format for more unusual crime fighting stories from the Goon Squad. The stories are available individually in eBook format.
Audio Notes: Gabrielle de Cuir does a great job with each of the voices, British and others. The underlying humor comes through easily in the narration and the sound effects enhance the listening experience. This is a quick listen (under five hours) of entertainment that I recommend in audio format.
I received this title through Audiobook Jukebox. It qualifies as part of my Audio Challenge.
The New Girl; #2 Nightclubbing; #3 By the Water, by The Grave; #4 Exterminating Angel