The Antagonists is a self-published novel that I found out about through a text post on Tumblr, where someone had this idea of a paraplegic trying to prove their worth in front of superheroes. It was a great and even hilarious post (because of the ableist BS being overcome in a hilarious way) that seemed like a solid idea, and lo and behold, a novel was brought forth! But does the novel do this amazing idea justice?
Well, yes and no.
For starters, I love the main character Minerva, who goes by Minnie half of the time. She’s spunky and unapologetic to the BS the world serves her. If someone does something stupid or hateful, she’s going to tell you right away, and won’t care if your butthurt feelings get hurt. She’s a great protagonist in a book called The Antagonists. She’s the only reason I want to continue the series.
The rest of the stuff, however, falls short. Everything about this book, from its settings to its side characters to even the conflicts, is glossed over and leaves very little of an impression.
The description of almost every character is reduced to about three lines of description and detail. For example, I could not tell you the differences between the Quartet superhero characters at all, aside from which one was the bigger jerk. Their abilities and appearances are glossed over so quickly, it’s nearly missed or skimmed over.
The description of the city, New Quartz, is even less descriptive. There’s barely anything that makes it stand out as any other city, which is a shame considering the name. I’d like to think it’s colorful and bright, like quartz itself. But with the lack of descriptive landmarks or colors, I had no idea if this was a city that was more Gotham or Metropolis in regards to appearance. The settings in certain scenes were descriptive, yes, but I didn’t get an overall big picture of the world this story takes place in.
The concept in the original post started out as a simple idea. The novel expands on it, adding in magical elements and prophecies and otherworldly abilities. But even those things I felt were glossed over. The backstory of our so called “villain?” A quick conversation, and then it moves on. The reveal of where the villain and hero get their powers? A quick twist of certain mythology, and then it moves on. The overall theme of “protagonist” versus “antagonist” being the big twist was the worst of it for me. Like, it’s explained, and it kind of made sense as a theory. But when put into action, it made no sense whatsoever. Why is the “antagonist” the equivalent of the bad guy when he’s doing nothing really evil? And why is he even labeled as that to begin with? I think I might have missed something about that.
You know what this novel lacked? In-depth exposition. It doesn’t have that booming announcer that goes on in the background, explaining this stuff to the audience. There’s no beginning chapter explaining how these heroes and villain came to this place, how they got to be the villain and hero roles, why they’re still there, and what significance these “heroes” have to the city. It was like it was designed with a comic book format in mind, versus a novel format. With a comic book format, you can get away with not going deep into the character’s psychology with words. Instead, you can draw it out and show it through a different medium. Same goes for the backgrounds and character designs. But in a novel? Everything depends on the words the writer puts in. And I felt that the words that were in this book didn’t do the overall ideas it had put in the justice it needed. It was just too quick and too short.
Regardless of these criticisms, I do want to read the next book. I felt that this was too short, and I want an expansion on everything. And I also want to see the main character being awesome once again. The ideas are good, they just need some tweaking. I’m just hoping the tweaking is done in the next book.