In J. C. Weston’s THE SWEET UPLIFTING RUSH AND DRAWING HANDS, Quinn Kaufman embarks on an adventure after sorting through their [NOTE: Quinn is non-binary and often uses the pronouns they/them] mother’s clothing only to discover an experimental superhero costume labeled “Psychic Augmenter Mark 4.” A curious Quinn tries it on to find that the suit is a little itchy, but otherwise unremarkable. It isn’t long, however, before Quinn experiences some odd effects, and soon realizes that the suit has awakened their latent psychic powers. After some experimentation, Quinn learns the extent of their new abilities and begins to test them in the outside world.
Quinn isn’t the only one with powers: researchers have discovered “over a hundred genes that can grant superpowers” (5). In fact, research has revealed that the majority of the population possesses what are called “metagenes,” and 15% of people have an activated metagene. In Quinn’s world, superheroes are fairly common, and now, thanks to this suit, Quinn ranks among their number. When Legion—a shapeshifting, duplicating villain with nearly unlimited powers—threatens the city, Quinn and their fellow metahumans must band together. In the process, Quinn discovers more about their past and their own identity.
THE SWIFT UPLIFTING RUSH also contains DRAWING HANDS, a novella that develops the relationship between Quinn and their father, a chronically ill professor, and touches on the importance of art. As DRAWING HANDS occurs before the time of THE SWIFT UPLIFTING RUSH, it provides further insight into Quinn’s non-binary gender identity and also explains how the author chose to tackle such a delicate topic. THE SWIFT UPLIFTING RUSH AND DRAWING HANDS are particularly notable for their inclusivity. In addition to the queer, non-binary protagonist, characters of all colors and abilities appear throughout the story. The addition of these characters feels natural, not forced, and the result is a world that more accurately mirrors the real one.
While THE SWIFT UPLIFTING RUSH AND DRAWING HANDS have many merits to recommend them, there are a few drawbacks. Some parts of the stories could be condensed, and the structure of THE SWIFT UPLIFTING RUSH is, at times, a little complicated. These criticisms are minor, however, in the context of the greater whole, and when the reader gets swept up in the story, the tale moves along with all the force of a metahuman.
A superhero story for the modern era, J. C. Weston’s THE SWEET UPLIFTING RUSH AND DRAWING HANDS offer readers a unique protagonist, an abundance of action, and all-encompassing inclusivity.
~Jennifer Noll for IndieReader