Review | “Arch-Nemesis” by Gabriela Martins

Rating-2 Stars

Synopsis: Rodrigo is not very good at being a hero, but he’s convinced that if he catches the speedster who’s been terrorizing the South Brazilian high society and stealing their goods, it’ll be his heroic breakthrough. On top of that, he’s also worried about his grandma coming to live with him and his sister, when the last time they’d seen each other was before Rodrigo’s transition. But it’s okay. He’s got this. He’s totally got this. (Right?)
Content Warnings: Alchohol, misgendering, smoking (cigarettes).

Review

Arch Nemesis

When I read books that I want to like but end up not liking, I spend a lot more time thinking about why. With this one, I just completely didn’t click with this story. Like, I have no major complaints but I still wasn’t a fan.

The main reason I got an eARC of this is that I’m a transgender reviewer, so let me talk about the rep first. It’s pretty standard. Martins seems to have done research and has a lot of respect for the identity. While reading this, I realized that so much trans rep focuses on coming out and transition. In Arch-Nemesis specifically, there’s a lot of mention of “before Rodrigo’s transitioned” and “since starting hormones”. Part of his arc is also about reconnecting with his grandmother since coming out. It rubs me the wrong way that this and so many other stories only focus on these two parts of being transgender, but I guess I didn’t expect much from non-own-voices representation anyway.

The other thing that I feel the story is rushed. Yes, I’m aware it’s a novella, but I’m not even talking about the plot so much as the world building. Of course, you don’t need a ton of world building to have a good story, but Martins set up the story to be so much more and gave just enough detail to confuse me and leave me with questions at the end. Why is Rodrigo scared to tell his sister that he has super powers? What does this society do to people who are secretly super heroes and super villains? How come are these types of people?

At least the family and romance aspects of the plotline were set up well. The subplot of Rodrigo reconciling with his grandmother and sister after tragic family events is well written and sweet. Plus his romance with Bibiana, the super villain he begins the story trying to catch, is cute, although I feel like it’s missing something I can’t figure out.

Final Thought: This story just wasn’t for me, but this is also the first rating on Goodreads below four stars so maybe I’m missing something that everyone enjoyed.

Thank you to the author for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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