Three years ago, Zola Noite's nemesis killed her sidekick and forced her to watch. The guilt drove her to hang up her cape. Zola knows one thing for certain. She will never be a superhero again.
Psychologist Dr. Arturo "Fort" Forte specializes in super-powered mental health. He’s the only reason Zola can once again call herself sane—although, truth be told, the heat between them is slowly driving her back to mad.
When three mega-villains escape the prison Fort oversees, all Zola's best laid plans go up in flames. Fort asks her for help, and she can't turn down the man she's secretly come to love. As battles ensue and clues add up, the one thing Zola trusts is called into question: Fort's true agenda and which side he’s on.
TO THE FIFTH POWER was an unconventional superhero romance. Dubbin takes our main character, Zola and hands her to us so broken and unstable that when she's overwhelmed she astral shifts leaving behind a dust afterimage. She was the Best. She was Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman all rolled into one and was revered as much as she was feared. We see the team she used to lead and without any apparent bitterness her former teammates admit they can't keep up with the workload without her.
I've often wondered how superheroes bounce back from watching their sidekicks brutally killed or vice versa. Batman alone has lost several of his sidekicks to violence (either to death or to handicap), and his sidekicks' have lost their families because of their association with Bats (sorry Tim). Yet without fail at some point the Hero returns, probably grimmer and whole lot more gruff and caustic (Tim had to almost blackmail Bruce into accepting him as Robin after Jason Todd's brutal death), but we rarely see the fall out.
Dubbin shows us just how bad that fall out can get. Its been several years since Zola's sidekick was brutally beaten by her arch-nemesis, but she never forgets. The sounds of bones crunching, blood splattering, the bravery that kid showed--every detail is indelibly seared in her mind and she can't handle it. So she runs. She hides out as a normal person and avoids all things Superhero.
Honestly what choice does she have? Even if she suffered such a meltdown what does the world notice? Like our celebrities humanity just assumes that they will shed their tears, mourn privately for a little while and then be back in action before the soil has set on the grave. There's a price to pay to be a hero and Dubbin shows just what that price is through Zola.
And that? That's what kept me hooked. Oh the chemistry between Arturo and Zola was good, and I was genuinely interested in the mystery that were the rampaging criminals (which I'll give Dubbin credit, I was surprised by the answer), but watching Zola pick up the pieces that kept me reading. You could feel how painful it was for Zola to talk to her fellow comrades, what strained she felt trying to keep it together so what happened to her sidekick wouldn't happen to more people. Her utter horror when Arturo reveals why the criminals are fixated on her.
As a romance this was okay, but as an analysis of what it takes to be a hero...this was out of this world.