Laura "Keepsie" Branson is in the Third Wave of people born with superpowers: anyone who tries to steal from her gets frozen in place. A few years ago, her power was judged inadequate, and her application to train with the First and Second Wavers at the Seventh City hero Academy rejected. So now Keepsie quietly runs her bar, catering to her minor-league peers. Until she suddenly finds herself at the center of an epic battle between the mightiest heroes and villains of Seventh City, and Keepsie and her friends discover that it is up to them to save the day -- if they can figure out whose side they're really on.
Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps is an intriguing but imperfect effort. Lafferty is a clearly a talented writer, and her colloquial style, appealing common-folk (if superpowered) protagonists and skill with action scenes go a long way towards holding the reader's interest. The story, however, does not feel fully developed. The novel is paced a little oddly, with Keepsie and her friends doing a lot of running about that doesn't seem to advance the plot. The motivations of both the "heroes" and "villains" that Keepsie must confront are at times unclear, and their characterizations feel similarly inconsistent. Nonetheless, Playing for Keeps shows tremendous promise both in its writing and its basic premise, and, given the near-cliffhanger nature of the book's conclusion, we will hopefully see more, better-realized adventures of Keepsie and her crew.
Playing for Keeps is available in several different formats, including as a free download (or a $16.99 paperback) from Lulu or as a free audiobook from PodioBooks. Check out the very thorough Playing for Keeps website for other options and extras; Lafferty also maintains a general website here.