Five days ago I began to read a book that was given to me by a local author. Ben Langdon. Ben, I am very thankful you gave ‘The Miranda Contract’ to me! I hope this novel was internationally recognised and well received by our country. A must read for fans of the Percy Jackson books .
The concepts of superhuman and adolescent lives are combined frequently in literature (I mean all types of literature), so at first glance; the cover of the boy opening his jacket to reveal his ‘battery’ powers is relative to Clarke Kent or Peter Parker unbuttoning their work shirts to leave their monotonous lives and engage with epic battles with epitomised super villains. However, this book is very unique because it is set in Australia, rarely do we get a piece of writing focusing on a developing protagonist which takes on the superhero genre in a city such as ‘Melbourne’. Ben doesn’t go out of his way to portray the protagonist’s life as difficult and ‘boring’ like most teenagers feel towards their lifestyles, in fact it is quiet clear that Danny, the hero of the text (so far) can find the humour in the normal settings and typical life of a seventeen year old boy. This feature blends very fluently with his dynamic character. Ben does not define him by his power. He gives him other qualities that breathe depth into him. I think that Ben is setting me up to grow attached to him. I hope nothing bad happens to him!
The fact that Dan’s maniacal grandfather and the pop star character from the title serve as catalysts for a plot that uses stigmas and pressures bestowed from society to investigate the psychological profiles of Dan and Miranda, is so far one of the most clever techniques Ben employs to pedal the reader’s engagement with the plot. The method in which the author does it in my opinion, draws sympathy for us when we look at Dan and Miranda and how they interact under their own disguises with their regular worlds. In effect, it taps into themes of modern mythology and urban anti-heroism. This makes for an interesting comparison with ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman, except Ben is targeting a younger audience. Well, that has been my impression so far. I can gladly say it has not affected my enthusiasm for reading his text because of my age. What makes this book not grip the reader but stand out as a whole is how it pursues an obscure chain of events that evokes a universal metropolitan landscape that we know. This is called mystical realism. However this story is too strange to pervade the laws of science, in effect Ben has challenged the ‘expectations’ of a genre and contributed to another lesser renowned subject: speculative fiction.
With a confident voice and identifiable traits emerging from original characters in a rapidly growing movement of ‘urban heroes’, Ben Langdon’s ‘The Miranda Contract’ is a humble augmentation of a territory he has made his own. I also sense that in importance to the meaning of the text-it is a subtle commentary on the effect of characterisation in vulnerable youth (particularly those from minorities) through messages projected to us by cultural media outlets and mediums. Lesser important than the story’s originality but just as unique.
Rating: (Wont be given until I have fully read the book)