Genre Kryptonite: Adding X-Men to Anything

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I try to be a savvy reader who isn’t tricked into picking up books based simply on marketing copy. Sorry, book PR people, but I don’t let your schemes work on me… except when the blurbs or cover copy describe a book as “X-Men plus…” just about anything. I will pick up a book where normal people have some sort of mutant power almost without question, and I will likely love it unreservedly. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

X-Men + James Bond + (Lady) Ghostbusters = The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

the rook by daniel o'malleyThe Rook is a true delight. The protagonist is Myfanwy Thomas, an operative with mutant-like a secret organization that helps battle the supernatural. One day, Myfanwy wakes up without her memory, but in possession with a series of letters she wrote to herself before the memory erasure. Following “Thomas’s” instructions, Myfanwy tries to continue on with her work, as well as figure out what kind of conspiracy led to her memory loss and is threatening her organization. The supernatural powers in this book are so creative, it’s full of girl power, and it has some really goofy and gross set pieces. The best!

X-Men + The Magicians = Lexicon by Max Barry

lexicon by max barryLexicon is the perfect mutant story for book nerds. In the world of the book, words have the power to persuade, coerce and kill people. Teenager Emily Ruff is recruited to join a secret organization planning to take over the world using this power. In a parallel story line, a man named Wil Parke is kidnapped at the airport by men who hope to get something out of his mind… a secret with deadly consequences. This book flies all over the place in terms of plot, but remains a fun, supernaturally-powered thriller that will definitely reward a second reading.

X-Men + Jane Austen = These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

these vicious masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly ZekasI’m not a regular reader of swoony historical reads, but I do have a soft spot for them in the proper reading mood. These Vicious Masks was perfectly up my alley when I needed something fun. Set in England in 1882, the book centers on Evelyn, a young woman tired of being forced into a life she doesn’t think fits. When her sister Rose disappears, Evelyn travels to London to find her. She discovers an underground world of people with extraordinary powers who have put her sister in grave danger. Evelyn must balance her search, the discovery of her own abilities, and the romantic attentions of two different men. This book is so charming.

X-Men + Kill Bill = The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel GonzalesOther Rioters have raved about The Regional Office is Under Attack!, so I’ll keep it short – a group of super-powered female assassins, known as The Regional Office, have been tasked with protecting the globe from catastrophe. But their mission is put in jeopardy by those within, as a group of employees try to take down the office from within. So fun! And, as a bonus, this book employs one of my other weaknesses, the use of historical documents to illustrate the current story line.

As I was drafting this post, I turned my Book Riot colleagues to see other books that might fit into this particular niche. They had a bunch of suggestions, but here were three of my favorites (and my guesses for possible X-Men related equations):

  • X-Men + Teens + Then We Came to the End = The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  • X-Men + Michael Connolly = Brilliance by Marcus Sakey
  • X-Men + The DaVinci Code = The Incrementalists by Steve Brust and Skyler White