Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain minor spoilers.
Change of Life by Samantha Bryant is the sequel to Going Through the Change (you can read my review here). As such, this review of Change of Life will contain spoilers for Going Through the Change. Consider yourself warned.
Still here? Right, let’s do this.
Change of Life by Samantha Bryant continues the story of our favorite band of menopausal superheroes. In this novel, Jessica (the gravity-defying cancer survivor) and Leonel (the strong “man” formerly known as Linda) are working for the Department, a secret government organization that specializes in finding, training, and sometimes defeating individuals with superhuman abilities, as well as other spy-related missions. Patricia (the Hulk-like dino-woman) is on the hunt for her former friend and evil mastermind Cindy Liu, who has disappeared after the events of Going Through the Change. Helen (the fire-wielding villain) has also gone missing, and her daughter Mary (a non-super, albeit fiery, young woman) has gone looking for her.
As you can tell, there is a lot going on in Change of Life. And yet, Bryant weaves a complete and engaging narrative, giving each character her fair share of the spotlight and emotional depth. (This includes our newest hero, Sally Ann, who is Jessica’s trainer within the Department.) The plot moves quickly and smoothly, keeping the reader entertained and trying to unravel the mystery along the way. Part of the pacing comes from the narrative style — short chapters and alternating perspectives — which allows the reader to view the conflicts from all angles and ensures that there is a heroine to whom everyone can relate.
Perhaps my favorite part of Change of Life (and Going Through the Change) is how Bryant uses her different characters to challenge and celebrate the different forms of womanhood. From housewives to business women, and from child-free ladies to grandmothers, Bryant depicts womanhood from all angles, showcasing the similarities and differences in how “the change” effects each of them. Moreover, Bryant explores how traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” personality traits can both be positive for her female characters. For example, one of Leonel (aka Linda’s) greatest assets is her ability to listen and her caring nature, while Patricia finds strength in her independent spirit and take-no-bullshit attitude.
This being said, my only criticism about Change of Life was that sometimes the narrative stalled on characters’ emotions a bit too long. While the internal monologues did increase my understanding of the characters, sometimes they bordered on repetitive, and other times I would rather have “seen” the characters’ emotional states emerge through their physical reactions to the conflicts in the story.
Slow spots aside, the real jewel of Change of Life is the character development. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel inspired as the characters embraced both their superpowers and the changes their powers caused in their personal lives. For instance, Jessica learning to master her “flying” and no longer fear it made me incredibly proud, and Leonel standing up for herself and finally focusing on herself after a lifetime of being a wife and mother first showed her strength and made me love her even more. All of the characters have similar growths and will endear themselves to the reader twofold in this novel.
Overall, Change of Life is a fitting sequel. Packed with action, drama, and a dash of romance, and led by a cast of strong, complex, and diverse women, it’s everything you’d want in a “menopausal” superhero novel. Highly recommended for superhero-lovers of all genders, ages, and levels of geeky-ness.
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