Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Book Review: Change of Life by Samantha Bryant

change of lifeChange of Life (A Menopausal Superhero Novel #2) by Samantha Bryant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain minor spoilers.

Change of Life by Samantha Bryant is the sequel to Going Through the Change (you can read my review here). As such, this review of Change of Life will contain spoilers for Going Through the ChangeConsider yourself warned.

Still here? Right, let’s do this.

Change of Life by Samantha Bryant continues the story of our favorite band of menopausal superheroes. In this novel, Jessica (the gravity-defying cancer survivor) and Leonel (the strong “man” formerly known as Linda) are working for the Department, a secret government organization that specializes in finding, training, and sometimes defeating individuals with superhuman abilities, as well as other spy-related missions. Patricia (the Hulk-like dino-woman) is on the hunt for her former friend and evil mastermind Cindy Liu, who has disappeared after the events of Going Through the ChangeHelen (the fire-wielding villain) has also gone missing, and her daughter Mary (a non-super, albeit fiery, young woman) has gone looking for her.

As you can tell, there is a lot going on in Change of Life. And yet, Bryant weaves a complete and engaging narrative, giving each character her fair share of the spotlight and emotional depth. (This includes our newest hero, Sally Ann, who is Jessica’s trainer within the Department.) The plot moves quickly and smoothly, keeping the reader entertained and trying to unravel the mystery along the way. Part of the pacing comes from the narrative style — short chapters and alternating perspectives — which allows the reader to view the conflicts from all angles and ensures that there is a heroine to whom everyone can relate.

Perhaps my favorite part of Change of Life (and Going Through the Change) is how Bryant uses her different characters to challenge and celebrate the different forms of womanhood. From housewives to business women, and from child-free ladies to grandmothers, Bryant depicts womanhood from all angles, showcasing the similarities and differences in how “the change” effects each of them. Moreover, Bryant explores how traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” personality traits can both be positive for her female characters. For example, one of Leonel (aka Linda’s) greatest assets is her ability to listen and her caring nature, while Patricia finds strength in her independent spirit and take-no-bullshit attitude.

This being said, my only criticism about Change of Life was that sometimes the narrative stalled on characters’ emotions a bit too long. While the internal monologues did increase my understanding of the characters, sometimes they bordered on repetitive, and other times I would rather have “seen” the characters’ emotional states emerge through their physical reactions to the conflicts in the story.

Slow spots aside, the real jewel of Change of Life is the character development. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel inspired as the characters embraced both their superpowers and the changes their powers caused in their personal lives. For instance, Jessica learning to master her “flying” and no longer fear it made me incredibly proud, and Leonel standing up for herself and finally focusing on herself after a lifetime of being a wife and mother first showed her strength and made me love her even more. All of the characters have similar growths and will endear themselves to the reader twofold in this novel.

Overall, Change of Life is a fitting sequel. Packed with action, drama, and a dash of romance, and led by a cast of strong, complex, and diverse women, it’s everything you’d want in a “menopausal” superhero novel. Highly recommended for superhero-lovers of all genders, ages, and levels of geeky-ness.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

You can find out more about Samantha Bryant on her website, and you can read an interview where she discusses her inspiration for Change of Life here.


change of lifeIf you are interested in reading Change of Life and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it through my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

Guest Post: More Than One Kind of Woman Can Be a Hero by Samantha Bryant

flash_dalePortrayals of women in speculative fiction have come a long way. When my parents were children, (the fifties), female characters were there to be rescued or objectified (or both if possible).  Think Flash Gordon or George Reeve’s Superman. Very few female characters, and all of them in peril. Lots of skimpy lamé costuming, and hysterical responses to danger. It got a little better into the sixties, with Star Trek and Lost in Space, where women at least were part of the crew and not just a liability to male heroes.

charlies_angelsIn my childhood (the seventies), female characters had more agency, and even took the lead role in some settings. Think Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman.  The Six Million Dollar Man (and the Bionic Woman).  In the years following “separate but equal” policies of race in the United States at large, television seems to have taken that to heart for gender as well in writing shows that featured women who were successful and competent in their own circles, though usually not alongside and equal to men.

In my own children’s childhoods (the 2000s) entire television programs and book series center around a seriously kick-butt woman and even the male-dominated groups have at least one strong female character in the bunch.  Alias, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hunger Games, the Avengers, Orphan Black. These women are intimidating and highly skilled. They are tough and dangerous.

That progression is exciting and inspiring. It gives me hope as we move forward. Where might we be in three more generations?

clonesBut the work is not done. There’s been a lot of discussion about what a strong, female character really is. In contemporary representation, largely she is some kind of paragon of physical prowess. Quite literally, a strong woman. I like this kind of character way better than I liked the doormats of the past, but she’s still not often a fully-developed, well-rounded and interesting person yet. In my view, a strong female character isn’t really any different than a strong male character: she just needs to be fully developed, allowed to have flaws, history, motivations and doubts.

I wonder if the one-note nature of some of these strong female characters comes about because our heroines are all so young. They are young adults, just finding their way in the world and getting to know themselves. They don’t have history and experience to pull on. They don’t yet know what they don’t know.

That’s why I wrote Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. I wanted to consider the idea of a woman hero, someone who was already established in herself before the strange new life-changing element (in this case: superpowers) comes in. My women range in age from thirty-two to sixty-seven.  They’ve made a variety of life choices and are at very different stages in life.

Banner-Take-Two
Banner by Charles C. Dowd

Linda Alvarez is a grandmother who was always a stay-at-home mother, until she develops super-strength and other life-altering changes. Patricia O’Neill is career-oriented and prides herself on independence, but finds she needs help to deal with her new alter ego. Jessica Roark is the mother of young children, dealing with depression and a feeling is disconnection with her life, until she develops a more immediate problem with gravity. Helen Braeburn has a grown daughter and has thrown her efforts into advancing her career after the dissolution of her marriage, but things heat up after she develops the ability to wield fire. They’re all bound together by a mad scientist, Cindy Liu, determined to prove to the world that a woman is worth more than just an incubation system for babies.

As I’ve continued to write in this universe, I’ve found it a great backdrop for exploring issues surrounding being female in the early twenty-first century.  It’s what I’ve always loved about speculative fiction. Done right, it can be fun, and it can make you think. That’s what I’m hoping for.


going through the changeGoing Through the Change is going through a change in price for a couple of days in early August. On August 5th and 6th you can get the Kindle edition for free on Amazon. Check it out at: http://bitly.com/face-the-change

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills. You can find her online on her blog,  Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.