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Fused: The Samantha Granger Experiment    by Kari Lee Townsend Amazon.com order for
Fused
by Kari Lee Townsend
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2010 (2010)
Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Lately, superhero novels seem to be slowly popping up on shelves. Surprisingly, most of them are rather gender neutral, and quite a few are actually aimed at women. Kari Lee Townsend's new series, The Samantha Granger Experiment is the first I have seen aimed specifically at girls. Fused, which is quirky even if sometimes a little confusing, introduces readers to the world's newest superhero: Hard Wired Super Flash Gamma Girl Cellular Digital Diva.

After her parents' separation, Samantha Granger finds herself in the town of Blue Lake, struggling to make it through 8th grade. While joining the soccer team has helped her fit in, along with her best friend Mel, Sam is still not the most popular girl ... and does not think she stands a chance at getting football hottie Trevor. Her life is about to get way more complicated, though, when she finds a mysterious crystal while lost in the woods. Still holding her phone the latest model from her parents' work, the Electro Wave Sam touches the glowing orb. Before she knows it, she has become fused with her phone.

While having a keypad embedded in her hand, and having her face contort while internally searching the Internet, are highly embarrassing, her new powers have benefits, too like knowing all the answers in class, and instantly learning how to fend off bad guys. There is one side effect, however, that she can definitely live without; whenever her hormones surge (i.e. whenever Trevor is flirting with her), she is drawn to 911 calls. Sam cannot tell anyone other than Mel, that is about her new identity, but her secret is about to mess up her whole 8th grade experience.

Sam is the perfect heroine for a superhero novel. She is just an average girl who wants to be normal. The way she deals with her new powers is believable, and some of her antics had me laughing out loud. However, while Townsend creates great characters within a great premise, the plot sometimes is a little uneven. Time passes indiscriminately, and some events which seem to have just happened, actually happened weeks ago, while other events are much closer together than they appear. Whenever this occurred, it would throw me out of the story momentarily, until Sam's quirkiness drew me back in.

The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused does what any first novel should do introduces the reader to a great new character. While Kari Lee Townsend does leave some questions unanswered, I am still unclear as to where exactly Sam's adventures will next take the series. However, it is very refreshing to see a typical boy genre superheroes aimed at pre-teen girls, as girls can use positive fantasy heroes, too.

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