Speed by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Jeff Gottesfeld

Smallville, #5


Before the legend...before the icon...there was a teenager named Clark Kent. — — Clark and his friends are preparing for the Multicultural Day celebration in Smallville. As the festival approaches, several racially motivated attacks take place. Flyers for the festival are burned, a friend's house is trashed, and a runaway oil truck narrowly misses another friend's home. Oddly, the violence occurs in super-fast hypertime, so quickly that no one can see the attacker. When Clark realizes he's the only one who can solve the mystery, he tries to confront the culprit in "frozen time" to derail the ultimate racist plot.

Book six of the young adult series turns down the dial of enjoyment a bit. It's still okay since it invents a new story for the series instead of just rehashing a general episode like the first book did, but it's cheesier and doesn't capture the character personalities as genuinely.

'Speed' focuses on discrimination and the social message to avoid judging people by their looks, differences, and race. Hate crime has come to Smallville big time through a strange meteor freak, and of course Clark and crew use this opportunity to jump on the saving, politically correct bandwagon.

Again there is a festival financially backed and conceived by Lex Luthor, who wishes to bring recognition to the importance of diversity. Interestingly enough Peter and Jonathan continue to show their prejudice to Lex throughout the book while embracing accepting other people without judgement.

Some of the character's intensity of reactions - especially outrage and insta-anger - feel a little contrived and unconvincing. Lex was especially annoyed and determined, with the authors putting in a strange invented story about him being mistaken as a skinhead in his youth because of his bald head.

Even if it's not as much of a winner, it's still worth reading for fans of the series, managing to keep that same wholesome, feel good value to it. The little inventions that add to the existing stories is what makes the books worth reading for fans.

Funny the last page ended with Clark saying to Lex, "If you ever decide to run for president, count on me to be your campaign manager." How things change.


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