Mur Lafferty crafts a world where superheroes must be licensed to practice, and are paid by the city through tax revenue. A world where those with powers apply to the Academy and have their powers tested. If you are deemed worthy, you get a name and a suit and get to fight crime. If you are deemed weak, you get to try and live like a normal person and try to forget your aspirations of heroism. 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. She runs a bar across the street from the Academy that is frequented by people rejected by the Academy. 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. 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. It’s short, and certainly not a time waster. You could do worse.