the Little Red Reviewer

Rising Stars (novelization) by Arthur Byron Cover

Posted on: September 14, 2013

rising stars novelRising Stars by Arthur Byron Cover (based on the graphic novel by J. Michael Straczyinski

published in 2002

where I got it: purchased used










Every so often we all need a fluff read. You know, something that will entertain you without challenging you? Fluff reads for me are usually media tie-ins, and the best kind of fluff read is a direct novelization of a comic book or movie that I liked.

A few years ago I read J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars graphic novels, and loved them. I don’t usually go for superhero stories, but Straczynski is alittle like Whedon for me – if he writes it, I am probably going to like it no matter what the subject matter was.
The novelizations of the graphic novels are by Arthur Byron Cover, but like the artists of the graphic novels, Straczynski’s story and backstory are the star of the show. It’s a little sad, actually, that I had no idea from reading this if Cover is a good author or not. But again, that’s the nice thing about really fluff novelizations – I don’t need to worry about if the author is any good or not. Cover does flesh out the world building and a lot of the character background, which I appreciated. For example, we get much more information about the political situation of the country in the late 1960s, far more time is spent follow the children during the 1970s, and characters get more inner monologue and depth.

In the late 1960’s, a meteor crashed to earth, exploding over a small midwestern town. No one thought anything of it, until a few years later. You see, all the children who were in utero at the time of the meteor were imbued with special powers. Some kids could fly, some kids were invulnerable, some kids had telepathic powers. One hundred and thirteen Special children, all who could do something different. Or least, mostly. Some children who were born right on time never manifested anything. Who knows, maybe there wasn’t enough special powers to go around? The government descends on the town to study the children, and keeps them at a local summer camp turned boarding school.

I really liked the dynamic of that these children gained superpowers simply by being in the wrong place and the wrong time. None of them have any of the classic or expected comic book superhero youth stories. None of these kids are orphans, none of them are wealthy heirs, none of them are aliens or anything. Their parents and their older siblings and their neighborhood was completely normal. But these kids are Specials. As the kids manifest and develop their powers, the government needs to ensure the Specials use their powers for the good of the country. But who decides what’s good?

The emotional feel of Rising Stars is very much X-Men meets Heroes. The Specials were able to develop their powers in a relatively safe environment. They had no idea the general public were terrified of them, viewed them as ticking time bombs. Some of them grew up to be superheroes, some grew up to be famous in other ways. Other learned that it was best if they just kept their heads down and acted as normal as possible. No matter what they do, they’ll never be able to live a normal life.


The main story of Rising Stars takes place when the Specials are adults, possibly in the late 90s or early 00s. Told mostly through the viewpoint of John Simon, a Special himself, who is happy to tell us about his fellow Specials, but he seems very uncomfortable talking about his own powers. Because this was originally a comic book, with some issues focusing on different side characters, there are some confusing POV switches in the novel. If you’ve read the graphic novel or comic issues, you know what’s going on, but I can easily see how this would confuse or frustrate someone who has never read the graphic novels.

The present day story line follows John as he investigates the deaths of two Specials. But how could these people be killed? The only people who know how to kill a Special are the other Specials and a few doctors who worked with them when they were kids. So the first puzzle piece comes together pretty easy for John, that a Special is killing one of their own. The next question is why? John and some of the other Specials figure it out pretty quickly that there’s only so much “power” to go around. As the specials are killed off, the remaining special’s powers increase. Add in a corrupt hero, the leader of a megachurch, and things suddenly get very interesting.

If you enjoyed the Rising Stars graphic novel, you’ll get a kick out of the novelization. This isn’t one of those books that’s going to move you or inspire you or break your heart. It’s just a fun way to spend a few days. If I happen to run into the novelizations of the 2nd and 3rd volumes of the graphic novel I’ll definitely pick them up.


5 Responses to "Rising Stars (novelization) by Arthur Byron Cover"

I love the covers – they’re so dramatic and I’m sure I’ve seen the one above with the guy with the blue eyes? Not sure where. I like the sound of these, I enjoyed the last book I read that started out as graphic/comic series – it was good fun and this sounds similar.
Lynn 😀


hmmm, maybe you saw it on a poster at a comic shop? cuz yeah, it is wonderfully dramatic!

what did you read recently that started out as a graphic/comic?

one of my other favorite novelizations is the Girl Genius novels from Phil and Kaja Foglio. good stuff!


That’s the one I’m thinking of – Agatha H – I loved it and it was just such good fun. I haven’t picked up the second one yet but I will do eventually.


Ooooh… I have to go reread those comics again…..Also, maybe give Planetary another reread as well…..


yeah, I totally want to read Rising Stars again too! and since it’s only 3 volumes, I can get through the whole thing in a weekend. WIN!


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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