This post of Alter Ego: The Other Me volume 1 by Author David Terruso, Illustrations Nick DeStefano has been adapted from two previous posts. First is the spoiler free review followed by the spoiler full review and summary.
Many thanks to author David Terruso for providing me with a copy of Alter Ego in order to write this honest review.
Spoiler Free Review
Let me get this part out of the way. I loved this book. I LOVED it. I think it’s my favorite book that I’ve read so far this year. Read it, do it. Stop reading this, go read Alter Ego instead.
Alter Ego is in its own genre. I’m calling it a comic novel. It’s formatted in a way that the top part of the page is written in paragraphs and the bottom of the page is in comic panels.
But I wouldn’t just call it a picture book. It’s more than that. It’s extraordinarily well thought out and well formatted. The paragraphs always page break at a natural spot. You never have to finish a sentence on the next page and then flip back to look at the pictures. You can finish the paragraph and then take your time analyzing the pictures without ever leaving the flow of the story.
Additionally, there are codes to help you keep track of the storytelling devices. If a picture is tinted blue it’s a flashback. Such a simple device helps the reader so immensely. It’s this kind of detail that really helps the book stand out from any other slapped together mystery novel.
Terruso wants you to be able to follow the story and find the clues within both the words and the pictures. I always hate it in mysteries where it feels like the author wants you to get confused and lost and deliberately leaves false clues and red herrings and keeps things vague just to mess with you.
Alter Ego doesn’t do that, it’s better than that. Terruso treats the reader with respect, he treats the art of storytelling with respect, and he elevates the whole craft to a new level. The bar is up here people!
This book is what it looks like when a team takes the time to make it perfect. It’s not churned out for profit. It’s the culmination of study, research, natural talent, and love. This is what you get when you have a vision and don’t stop until it’s exactly what it should be.
The basic story is that Chris Club, a private investigator, is hired to discover the true identity of a mysterious superhero who appeared after a supernatural event occurred.
We follow Club as he picks up clues. We do not know anything that he doesn’t know. We’re not watching him solve the mystery, we’re solving it with him. That’s way more fun to me.
And this book is FUN. It’s so much fun to read. I usually crank through a few books a week and I figured this short one could be knocked out on a lunch break. I was wrong. I slowed down. I took my time on each page. Re-reading sentences. Staring at pictures. Taking notes and looking back over them as I went along. I got so sucked into this story what normally would’ve taken me two hours took two days and I loved it the whole time.
The characters are interesting and realistic. Everybody has some good and bad to them, no one is pure hero or pure villain. There are risks taken with the characters and the stories that most authors shy away from or would only display in order to be edgy but Terruso handles everything with care and foresight.
I have absolute faith that every piece of this puzzle will come to place by the end. I trust that nothing is superfluously added just to stand out or be shocking. It all belongs and will pay off.
I honestly haven’t been this wowed by a book in a good long time. This review probably just sounds like a gushing fan girl but I think I am at this point. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series as it’s published and I really hope that you buy this book and feel the same way.
Alter Ego: The Other Me volume 1 Summary
Alter Ego is not your typical book. It’s part novel, part comic book, all mystery. The pages are formatted in a half and half manner. Paragraphs on top, comic panels on bottom.
The pictures are not always descriptive of the words on that page. They might be color coded to demonstrate a flashback, they might be depicting something happening elsewhere in the story at the same time. In any case, they’re loaded with details and clues necessary for the story.
The formatting of the book is extremely impressive. The pages always stop at a natural breaking point that allows for the reader to analyze the pictures without feeling removed from the flow of the story. I honestly have no idea how difficult this was to achieve for all 75 pages but I was in awe every time.
Only 75 pages? That’s correct. I was expecting to be able to knock this one out in a lunch break but I actually took a couple days to read it because it’s so incredibly dense. A lot happens over a short amount of time and there is a lot to take in and process.
But it is so much fun to read and analyze and process the words and pictures in this book that you’ll never regret a single moment of doing so. It’s one of the most engaging books I’ve picked up in a very long time.
I found myself slowing down. Really reading and thinking about each sentence. Really looking at every part of the pictures. And really loving how drawn into the story I became.
So let’s get into it. Chris Club is a private investigator (PI) hired to discover the true identity of a new superhero who has appeared in this city. His name is Blue and he only appears at night. He seems to pick and choose who he saves and is a love him or hate him public figure.
The woman who hires him is a twisted sadist whom we can assume has nefarious motives for wanting to discover Blue’s identity but as is the case for most PIs, Club needs to get paid so he takes the job anyway.
We follow Club back to his apartment building where we discover that he was friends with a kid who passed away there. The kid’s parents are happy to discover that Club is real and not just an imaginary friend that their child made up. They want to spend time with him but Club is uncomfortable.
The kid that Club was friends with was not saved by Blue and Club is resentful of that. Club is not necessarily on team Blue.
He goes to the local comic book shop to start his search for Blue. The kid who works there, who goes by Black Adam, says to start with the reporters who write about him most often.
We then learn a little about the event known as “The Blink.” For one second everyone on earth experienced an intense sensory loss. Everything went to black, and nothingness, and no one knows why. Blue appeared after this blink.
He follows a lead from a reporter about a young pink haired girl who was rescued by Blue during a rare appearance in the daylight. He follows her to her foster home and then to a diner. He finds himself attracted to this very young girl and is super creeped out by that fact.
The book itself has a disclaimer in the beginning about this relationship between an adult male and a pubescent girl. Apparently, at some point down the line in a sequel we’ll discover things aren’t what they seem.
One of the things this book does best is honesty. We do not live in black and white and all of us have thoughts that we don’t dare say out loud. It’s malarkey to claim otherwise. Club finds himself drawn to the beauty of a girl he logically knows to be too young for himself or the law. He doesn’t want to act on it. He doesn’t act on it. But we do see that the thought flashes involuntarily across his mind.
Don’t act like you’ve never had an impure thought. Club is all of us. We’re just not brave enough to put it out there for discussion.
Back to the diner. The pink haired girl is named Annie and she cozies up to Club very quickly. Flirts with him in a way that a naive young girl who thinks she’s spiritually older than she actually is would.
She says she thinks she knows Blue personally but doesn’t remember because she can’t remember anything from before The Blink.
I usually find amnesia to be a cheap plot device. Often it comes off as lazy writing. This is not the case for Alter Ego. It’s necessary and it makes sense for the confines of this story.
Club is now going to team up with Annie to solve this mystery. A man named Delvin hires Club for a job. Even though he promised to only work on the Blue case for the time being Delvin’s pay offer is far too great to ignore. Delvin also has a mustache that looks suspiciously like Blue’s mask… Coincidence? Maybe!
Club goes to get his new assignment and discovers he’s being tasked with finding a pink haired girl. Annie. Delvin says that he should really carry a gun for this mission. Club doesn’t understand why Annie would be so dangerous but also doesn’t let on that he already knows her whereabouts.
He returns home to discover Annie in his bed in nothing but panties and his sweatshirt. Her pubic hair is visible peeking out of the top of her underwear. Club notices this and mentally chastises himself and he redresses her as she sleeps.
Club so desperately doesn’t want to get in any trouble with this, even in his own mind. When Annie wakes up she finds this all hilarious.
Since Annie doesn’t remember anything she doesn’t remember anything about Delvin. Doesn’t know why he’d be looking for her. But she wants to learn as much as Club does so she agrees to go with him to Delvin’s place. Upon their arrival Delvin tries to shoot Annie but Blue miraculously appears to save her and he ends up shooting Club in the foot instead.
Blue knows who everyone present is somehow. He threatens Delvin and speaks oddly.
Club now wants to bring in backup so he gets Black Adam on the team. Black Adam immediately falls for Annie. She just has a way about her.
During a stake out in the car Annie sings along to a song that has never been heard before. Is she from the future? What’s going on here?
They hear about another Blue sighting, during the day, but just miss him. While Annie was sleeping off the previous night’s stake out Blue attempts to rescue dozens of people from a dock collapse. Blue is unable to save everyone and is extremely upset about it.
I always enjoy when superheroes take their failings really hard. I think it’s an interesting trait when a powerful entity takes the weight of the world on their shoulders and Blue obviously has this problem.
Club returns to check on Annie and finds her very distraught as well. They put some pieces together and form the theory that Blue is part of Annie, she sends him out while she’s sleeping.
End of part 1.
I am so hooked. I can’t wait to see where this story goes next!
(Since originally publishing this review Alter Ego: The Other Me volume 2 has releaesed)
The characters are interesting and multi-faceted and I’m invested in their story. The mystery is well crafted and superbly paced. The pictures aid in the story instead of just taking up space. I could go on and on.
Alter Ego is a one of a kind book. It invented its own genre and style in order to find a way to best tell the story and keep the reader at peak engagement the entire time. It’s a book that will get better and more interesting with each read and one that I will return to once the series is complete. I can’t wait to discover all of the clues I missed the first time!
Please please please buy this book. Support this author and keep this series going!
5/5 blue people 🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️
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