Thank you to author Kaleb Quist for providing me with a copy of The Legend of Black Thunder in exchange for this honest review.
Throughout my indie book journey I’ve discovered a lot of absurd comedies, silly satires, and wacky adventures. The Legend of Black Thunder has a similar tone to many of these, utilizing absurdist humor and pop culture references to comment on the horribly messed up world we live in today. However, the book elevates itself when it shifts in tone toward the end and drives home its message.
A quick note on pop culture references. I don’t always love them, I find they date a book or can be used as a substitute for creativity. That’s not necessarily the case for this book and the main reason for this aside is something else entirely. There’s a random line in a random piece of dialogue where the character says “I like my coffee black just like my metal” and that’s a Mindless Self Indulgence song and if this was the intentional reference that makes me very happy.
The book is written as a play in 4 acts so it does not read like a traditional novel. This does make the book go quite quickly which is nice for when you don’t want to spend weeks with one story.
The story belongs to Michelle Rosenchild who is a classic overworked and underpaid customer service drone. She works at S-Mart, just like in Evil Dead, but she won’t be fighting zombies. No, she decides that she wants to become the villain, not the hero.
After getting unjustly fired she cobbles together an outfit and relabels herself as Black Thunder, menace to the world! She assembles a supervillain team consisting of White Lightning, Minor Inconvenience Man, Captain Silverware, Moonchild, Deerboy, and Henchman #9.
They quickly find out that being supervillains is really difficult to do when you don’t have any money. In fact, it’s hard to make any change in the world, good or bad, without any money. Michelle worked in retail, she’s broke. The others have no real source of income either, that’s why they’re so broken down that they want to become villains in the first place.
It’s like monopoly but it sucks and you can’t afford anything! The only way you can win is by killing yourself!Kaleb Quist – The Legend of Black Thunder
The Legend of Black Thunder is about being a minimum wage employee in a society that spits on the poor. Y’know, like our own. If you’ve ever worked in customer service before you’ll surely relate to her struggle. If you’re currently outraged by price hikes at every turn then you’ll be able to understand how anyone could snap and want to commit crimes just to see anything change a little bit.
Act 4 shift dramatically in tone to blur the lines between good and evil. Is she a villain or is she actually the hero we need? Who are the bad guys in a world where cops are bad, heroes are violent, politicians are corrupt, and ordinary citizens must compromise everything they believe just to get by?
It’s pretty depressing to think about how trapped we are in this broken system. The Legend of Black Thunder tries to give the protagonist hope but it’s also grounded in the unfortunate reality of having the entire infrastructure set against her.
We love stories about underdogs and people just like us gaining power but so very few of us transfer that inspiration to the real world. We’re not even able to try because getting fired means we’re a month away from homelessness. Well, looks like I kinda got lost in misery there, that’s depressing but that’s where we are. Try not to let it get you down, be more like Black Thunder and try to make change, even if all the odds are against you.
4/5 thunderbolts ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️
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