“It’s a fun, fairly light read and is worth picking up just to see a female superhero portrayed well.”

Out of Time

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Writer: Donna Marie Oldfield
Release Date: July 14, 2014

For a long time, superheroes remained primarily in the domain of comic books. While their adventures were quickly translated to film, radio, prose, and other media, it’s only been recently that anyone has been able to capture the spirit and energy that went into the comics versions. And because of that, most adaptations of comics to other formats felt very much like they were trying desperately hard to emulate what was on the comics page, but not quite getting it right. After all, comics are a different medium and have different strengths and weaknesses than other media. It’s only been really in the past few years that other authors have been really worked on superhero projects that did not try to emulate the comics, but took advantage of their own particular forms. And this is where Donna Marie Oldfield’s debut novel, Out Of Time, comes in.

The story is about Scarlett Shortt, who just turns eighteen at the start of the book. Not long after we meet her, though, she’s struck down by a truck, only to wake up as a Jane Doe in the hospital a month later. She soon learns, however, that there are no records of her or her family’s existence, and the world she steps into seems frighteningly darker than what she remembered. Her friends eventually find her; although, she doesn’t remember any of them. Her memory is very clear of her life before her accident, but these friends insist she was part of their team of superheroes.

As the story progresses, Scarlett learns about telekentic powers she didn’t know she had, of other super-powered teenagers, and how Prime Minister Goulden has spent the last several years creating a dystopia for most everyone while profitting immensely himself. It’s up to Scarlett and her new friends to try to stop Goulden’s plots and push for a more equitable life for everyone.

The book is written primarily for a young adult audience, so the plot is not overly complex, but there’s plenty of nuance to all of the characters to make things interesting, particularly with a second group of super-teens who, while also trying to make the world a better place, have a somewhat different approach than Scarlett and her friends. Goulden himself is perhaps the most superficial main character, but relatively little time is actually spent on him to show much depth anyway.

What I found striking about the story is the approach to Scarlett as the protagonist. Despite being the female lead in a superhero story, she’s not subject to the same tropes and bad cliches that are often attached to such characters. She makes her mistakes, as any human does, but tries to learn from them and become a better person with her own agency, despite being thrown into a completely unfamiliar and frightening world. She’s not given the leadership position in the team, but she’s in charge of herself throughout the story, and never is treated as a damsel in distress or a woman who’s goal is to simply find love and become a trophy wife. Scarlett is a strong character in the best possible sense, and shows how solid a female lead in a superhero story can be.

The book ends with the promise of further adventures for Scarlett and her friends. While Goulden’s primary plot is foiled, he is by no means out of the picture. It’s a fun, fairly light read and is worth picking up just to see a female superhero portrayed well.

Out of Time Review
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)