The best superhero books

15 authors have picked their favorite books about superheros and why they recommend each book.

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Thor The Mighty Avenger

By Roger Langridge,

Book cover of Thor The Mighty Avenger

The God: Thor

Marvel doesn’t always get it right, mythologically speaking, but this all-ages title was a fantastic introduction to the superhero version of everyone’s favorite Norse God, Thor. Romantic and full of adventure, with peeks at Thor’s goat chariot and guest appearances by a handful of other superheroes along the way, paired with the gorgeously expressive artwork of Chris Samnee, this is definitely a graphic novel worth gifting to both the young and young at heart in your life—if you can find it to give!


Who am I?

I’ve been immersed in Norse Myth for more than a decade and writing books about the Gods I’ve always wanted to read. My Fate of the Gods trilogy is a mythic mash-up of Biblical, Norse, Greek, and Egyptian myth, and writing as Amalia Carosella, my book Daughter of a Thousand Years is Viking age historical fiction about Freydis, the daughter of Erik the Red. Additionally, as a Norse Pagan polytheist myself, finding books that do justice to the Gods in our modern world is that much more important to me than your average reader - I’m always looking to celebrate the books that bring them to life!


I wrote...

From Asgard, With Love

By Amalia Dillin,

Book cover of From Asgard, With Love

What is my book about?

Samantha Connelly has no idea what she's doing with her life. That feeling leads her into the woods, where she pours a libation to a different god - a god of thunder - praying just once for a response. There's no lightning or ominous rumbles, but she does meet a man with a bow strapped to his back and an easy smile. A man named Ullr, who isn't really a man at all.

Unfortunately, he's brought ill-tidings. If Sam thought her life was a mess before, it's nothing to what's coming. Loss and pain and sorrow hang like a dark cloud over her fate, and now that she's called to the Norse gods, Ullr is determined to see her through it. Maybe it's foolish, but Sam agrees to let him. After all, with all signs pointing to ruin, how could accepting some help from the gods make things worse?

Steelheart

By Brandon Sanderson,

Book cover of Steelheart

What’s that you say, Steelheart isn’t urban fantasy? Even when it’s written by the emperor of fantasy himself, Mr. Brandon “I’ve written over fifty bestselling novels in twenty years” Sanderson. Well to that I say: Sparks! You’re like a rabbit doing maths equations instead of looking for foxes. And if you love ridiculous metaphors like that, then Steelheart is like a banana farm for guns. What’s not to love about this book? It’s a world filled with superpowered humans and every single one of them becomes an Epic villain. If that’s not dark enough humour for you, then David’s attempts at analogies will keep you entertained for days. I mean, who hasn’t looked at motorcycles racing towards you and thought “They looked dangerous, like alligators. Really fast alligators wearing black. Ninja alligators!” 

I absolutely love this book and all of the Reckoners books that follow.


Who am I?

I’m a writer by day and martial arts instructor by night, so when not spending time with my wife and kids, I love nothing more than to read, write, and fight. My favourite books are the ones filled with irreverent characters, who can smirk and joke at any grim situation, laughing the light of entertainment through the darkest of ordeals. These are the type of books I’m always drawn to, both in writing and in reading, where I can imagine taking any standout character and dropping them into a completely different book, then sitting back to watch the chaos they could make.


I wrote...

The Memory of Blades

By James Dwyer,

Book cover of The Memory of Blades

What is my book about?

“They say to hold a Memory Blade is to live forever, both as a life trapped within the blade and as a ruling Memory Lord carved into history. I say to hold a Memory Blade is to become an utter bastard, with three dozen pricks inside your head, all encouraging you to do depraved and despicable things. Immense fun, yes, but bloody dangerous when you have the four other Memory Lords coming to your city to celebrate your father’s funeral, doing their best to politely kill you and pilfer your family’s sword. So all I have to do is get through the next twenty-four hours without being spectacularly murdered and I should be fine. Right?“

– Lord Seff Thurat, beleaguered dilettante and all-around scoundrel

Superman Smashes the Klan

By Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (illustrator),

Book cover of Superman Smashes the Klan

This is another masterful creation by Gene Luen Yang! After falling in love with American Born Chinese, this recent work of his did not disappoint. This story based on an old radio play is a tale of self-acceptance and standing up to hatred. Yang brilliantly intertwines the narrative of the Lee family and the issues of discrimination and violence they are faced with moving into a new suburban town along with the struggles of a younger, less experienced Superman coming to terms with being himself, an alien among humans.


Who am I?

Growing up Asian American, the lack of representation I felt was constant and palpable. I think often about what it would have meant and how beneficial it could have been had I been able to see myself in picture books as a child. This is a list of books I wish little me could have read growing up because when I read them now they speak to that same vulnerable space in me that I still carry. They are a balm to my heart and mind, making me feel connected to both myself and others that look like me and share similar experiences.


I wrote...

Lovely

By Jess Hong,

Book cover of Lovely

What is my book about?

Lovely is a book that showcases the simple message that we are all different and that is what makes us beautiful. It is a colorful celebration of diversity that promotes an inclusive view of what makes all of our different bodies lovely.

Flora & Ulysses

By Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (illustrator),

Book cover of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Clever, comic-book reading, word-loving Flora is more cynical than ever since her parents’ separation. She’s sure her mother loves a shepherdess lamp more than her own daughter. When Flora saves a squirrel sucked up by a neighbor’s vacuum and he returns with super strength and the ability to understand language and write poetry, she finds a kindred spirit. I love this book for its colorful (human and squirrel) characters and subtle exploration of family dynamics. And I love that Flora’s journey, which is emotional rather than physical, isn’t wrapped up with a tidy bow at the end.


Who am I?

As a girl, I would roll around on the floor with my Labrador retriever, beg my parents for horseback-riding lessons, and dream of being a vet. A proficiency in language and lack of science skills led me to writing instead, but my intense love of animals never waned. I adore adventure stories featuring animal characters and human ones, and some form of communication between them. That’s why I wrote Shannon’s Odyssey which, like many Middle Grade novels, also explores family secrets and the all-important act of forgiveness. It’s not fantasy but contains mystical elements rooted in reality, because who doesn’t want to believe magic exists in our everyday lives?


I wrote...

Shannon's Odyssey

By S.M. Stevens,

Book cover of Shannon's Odyssey

What is my book about?

Shannon Simpson has a kind soul, sometimes questionable judgment, and courage to spare. When her parents are seriously hurt in a car accident, she treks a hundred miles through the forest seeking her long-lost grandmother, rather than stay with the mean, smelly Zielinskis. Finding Gran means navigating safely through the woods with only a compass, her wits, and a mysterious, possibly magical marra mamba stone to guide her. During her journey, Shannon faces bad weather, injuries, hunger, thirst, and wild critters–some nice and some not so nice. To her amazement, she realizes she can communicate with the animals. And she uncovers secrets about her family and herself. (Fun fact: My daughter illustrated the cover.)

One (One Universe)

By Leigh Ann Kopans,

Book cover of One (One Universe)

In a world with superpowers, two abilities mean you’re a Super and none means you’re Normal.

The Twist? Merrin Grey has a single power, meaning she’s half a Super called a One. And when she’s forced to transfer to a normal high school she meets Elias who is also a One. When they combine their powers, they can fly! 

One is a love letter to superheroes and comics and plays with the idea of what makes someone a superhero vs a less than. I loved all the sci-fi tropes stood on their heads in this book. And Merrin and Elias are the cutest. This was one of the first indie-published novels I read. It showed me the art of possible, and how fantastic the world of indie publishing is.


Who am I?

I grew up with a fascination for space and things that fly. I always wanted to be an astronaut. That didn’t exactly pan out (I have bad eyesight and I hate to run), but I was able to turn that passion into a career as an aerospace engineer. I’ve also been drawn to Young Adult books because they're able to take a seemingly mundane concept and twist it on its head. I start my stories with the question of ‘what if’? What if we could access infinite knowledge in the blink of an eye, but everything we did was constantly monitored? That is the basis for my YA sci-fi Tracker220 and my love of the genre.



I wrote...

Tracker220

By Jamie Krakover,

Book cover of Tracker220

What is my book about?

Kaya has access to infinite knowledge through the tracking chip in her head. When it glitches she runs from the authorities who monitor everything she says, everyone she talks to, and everywhere she goes. Bailen, a tech genius from a rogue underground movement offers refuge from the authorities who want to turn her into a lab rat, but he’s interested in more than her broken tracker.

The twist? Trusting him means betraying the only tech she’s ever known.

Watchmen

By Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons (illustrator),

Book cover of Watchmen

A slight cheat on my part, as Watchmen is a graphic novel instead of a prose novel, the almost nihilistic deconstruction of the superhero myth remains a modern classic. Set in an alternate 1980s, an alternate reality whose doomsday clock is bordering on midnight, it’s a broken mirror reflection of a world that is both frighteningly foreign yet uncannily similar to the era of my childhood, an era where nuclear war seemed like an imminent event. The superheroes of Watchmen were no longer super; the villains weren’t that easy to identify, and good and evil became truly subjective ideas, forcing you to ask the novel’s unanswerable question: Who watches the watchmen? 


Who am I?

I have long been a fan of dystopian worlds, and most of my reading, watching, and writing habits seem to reflect that fact. People say that I like depressing works, but I believe that in the midst of the sadness is where you find hope. And with enough hope, we can all find the power to save ourselves. These are some of my favorite works on the subject, and I hope that you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoyed creating this list.      


I wrote...

Kingdom of Heroes

By Jay Phillips,

Book cover of Kingdom of Heroes

What is my book about?

Years ago, a gene virus ran rampant across the planet, leaving a small percentage of people gifted/cursed with extraordinary abilities, and humanity itself forever changed. Several of these people joined together to form The Seven, the most powerful group of supers the world had ever known. The Seven have placed themselves as the nation's rulers, controlling the country through fear and intimidation. But now, someone or something is murdering The Seven one-by-one, single handedly attempting to make them pay for all of the sins they have committed.

To stop a killer, The Seven turn to a man who hates them as much as anyone. An imprisoned man known only as The Detective finds himself in the unenviable position of helping the people he despises in exchange for his freedom.

Ex-Heroes

By Peter Clines,

Book cover of Ex-Heroes

Zombies plus superheroes. ‘Nuff said, right? It’s like figuring out that peanut butter and chocolate are really, really good together. The humor comes from the author’s snark and wit, and the whole book series is just a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it looks like the continued adventures are on an indefinite hold, but I’m still keeping hope alive that this will one day be a big-budget TV show.


Who am I?

Having completed military survival courses as well as stints in an improv comedy troupe, James Schannep knows the best zombie stories are those presented with a wry grin while staring down the end of the world. The product of an overactive imagination, the genre-hopping Click Your Poison series puts you in the driver’s seat against zombies, pirates, international spies, a detective whodunit, superheroes (and villains), exploration through a haunted house, and more! 


I wrote...

Infected (Click Your Poison)

By James Schannep,

Book cover of Infected (Click Your Poison)

What is my book about?

3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question... Will you survive the zombie apocalypse? Here's how it works: You, Dear Reader, are the main character of this story. Live, die, and rise again based solely on the merit of your own choices.

"Infected. Is. So. Good." -- A girl just like you. "Holy $#*% this is awesome!" -- A guy more or less like you.

Dreadnought

By April Daniels,

Book cover of Dreadnought

I agreed to do this list because I wanted to promote April’s book so much. Seriously. If I could recommend it in every slot I would. Trans superhero dealing with her rage and powers in an alternative USA where superheroes are real? Yes, please. The writing is like so good that sometimes I type chapters of this book as a warm-up (and writing procrastination technique). I re-read it as a treat to myself as a way of surviving the pandemic.   


Who am I?

I'm a queer guy who loves speculative fiction. That hasn't been easy. The Disney villains of my childhood were all some kind of horrible LGBTQIAP+ stereotype (Ursula from The Little Mermaid literally modeled after a drag queen. Gaston, the muscle queen. Jafar, the effeminate manipulator...the list goes on and on). I recently watched the first season of Vox slack-jawed: the only queer representation was an effeminate, over-weight, makeup-ed, middle-aged queen lusting after a much younger straight character. Like many writers in the last few years, I'm trying to re-imagine speculative fiction with an array of LGBTQIAP+ characters in my upcoming contemporary epic fantasy YA book These Precious Stones.


I wrote...

One Man Guy

By Michael Barakiva,

Book cover of One Man Guy

What is my book about?

Summer school, a cute boy, and overbearing Armenian parents―what’s a guy to do?

Alek Khederian was looking forward to a relaxing summer. But when his parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades, Alek is sure this experience will be just as hellish as his freshman year of high school. But he never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Almost Super

By Marion Jensen,

Book cover of Almost Super

Rafter, Benny, and Juanita protagonate (yep, that’s a word) in a bizarre amalgamated world that could have been dreamed up by Stan Lee, the Andy Griffith Show writers, and Beverly Cleary. Dreamed up as a joke. Abandoned with a good comeraderific laugh (also a word). Then picked up, dusted off, and polished by Marion Jensen. But that’s not what happened. Jensen created the whole adventurous, hilarious, uplifting, good-buddy superhero story with his own solitary brain. My kids and I have laughed at his story many times.


Who am I?

The human body. The solar system. The science and math discoveries of ancient cultures. The power of taking care of neighbors and making everyone our neighbor. All amazing, all inspiring, so I write stories about them. Stories are what entertain us. Stories are what teach us. Stories can be misused to mislead us. Most importantly, the good stories, the right stories, can prompt us to grow. Expand. Empathize. Heal. I could use some of that. You too. Let’s read.


I wrote...

Space Boots

By Derick William Dalton,

Book cover of Space Boots

What is my book about?

Leo Jones wants nothing more than to become a surgeon, but a misplaced terrorist bomb destroys his chance. His plan B finds him cleaning a Navy starship, saving for school, and running out of patience. Hophnia Zimmerman wields her willpower with even more skill than her violin bow. As a new Navy officer, she's disappointed her first battle is not against an invader, but Leo's traitorous captain. She vows to bring him down, but agonizes over the collateral lives.

In the confusion, Leo creates more problems for Hophnia than a misplaced bomb did for him. As they struggle to save the ship and limp back to Earth, they find the battle isn't over. There are vindictive traitors who are not biding their time.

Ghosted

By J.M. Darhower,

Book cover of Ghosted

Jonathan isn’t your typical tortured hero, as much of his brokenness is self-inflicted. But that doesn’t make his journey to redemption any less painful or heart-twisty. We follow his progress in real-time while simultaneously discovering everything he did to fall from grace in the first place. You equally love him and hate him in the most soul-crushing way. And if that little bit of catnip didn’t sway you, give five-year-old Maddie a chance.


Who am I?

The tortured hero was my first love, and I’ve never been able to shake him. He never fails to crush me, and there’s nothing more rewarding to a masochistic reader than being completely annihilated, then put back together again. These heartbroken heartbreakers are easy to love (usually), easy to forgive (hopefully), and always keep you coming back for more (definitely). My character, Darian, was born of my search for the perfect tortured hero, and although I’ve moved on to a different kind of hero for my follow-up novel, Magnolia May, he’ll forever own my heart.  


I wrote...

Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun

By Robin Hill,

Book cover of Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun

What is my book about?

Francesca’s a grieving daughter who promised her late father she’d come out of her shell. Darian’s a grieving widower, content to remain in his. When the lonely pair meet by chance at an Austin, Texas music festival, they find solace in each other’s company. What follows is an unexpected friendship…and the toll it takes when the lines begin to blur.

Waiting for the Sun is an angsty, emotional friends-to-lovers romance about what happens when love finds you after loss—whether you’re open to it or not.

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