Mur Lafferty crafts a world where superheroes must be licensed to practice, and are paid by the city through tax revenue. Â A world where those with powers apply to the Academy and have their powers tested. Â If you are deemed worthy, you get a name and a suit and get to fight crime. Â If you are deemed weak, you get to try and live like a normal person and try to forget your aspirations of heroism. Â This is the world of Playing for Keeps.
Keepsie Branson’s power is that she can “hold” (put it a sort of stasis) anyone who tries to take anything that belongs to her. Â She runs a bar across the street from the Academy that is frequented by people rejected by the Academy. Â She has a waitress who can lift and balance anything on a tray, a cook who always knows what people want to eat and can make it, and friends who can learning things about people by smelling them, heal people one inch at a time, have super strength in five minute bursts, fire streams of feces from his hands, and other “useless” powers. Â They wind up getting caught in the middle between the heroes and the villains, and have to learn to make use of their powers to survive.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the book. Â It’s short, and certainly not a time waster. Â You could do worse.