Superheros are a trend (a small one, but trendy nonetheless) in middle grade sci fi/fantasy right now (Gary Lyga's Archvillain books, Powerless and Super, by Matthew Cody, the N.E.R.D. series, by Michael Buckly, the Vordak books, and Sidekicked, by John David Anderson, coming from HarperCollins next June). Still, each one that I've read has managed to put a new twist on the basic premise of "kid with special powers," and The Cloak Society, by Jeramey Kraatz (HarperCollins, October 2012), is no exception.
Alex has known no other reality than that of The Cloak--an organization of supernaturally gifted masterminds who are bent on assuming control of the world, giving all the huddled masses of humanity the chance to live beneath their glorious dominance. "Hail Cloak!" has been his mantra all his life, and he has never questioned the future his parents, leaders of the society, have chosen. It's a future in which his own gift of telekinesis will tip the balance in the Cloak's fight against the League of Justice, overthrowing them once and for all!
But then a chance meeting (of the desperate confrontation involving great violence kind) with young members of the League of Justice changes everything. Because Alex saves the life of Kirby, a girl who is his enemy....and slowly Alex questions life in the subterranean fortress of the Cloak--a world in which those in power demand unquestioning loyalty from their minions, a world in which his parents might want him more as a tool, than as a son.
Sure, it was easy for me to read lots of Nazi parallels into the story--it's pretty clear that the League of Justice are the good guys, and that the Cloak is sinister as all get out. And sure, I knew pretty early one where Alex's journey of introspection was going to take him. But there were lots of diverting super powered adventures along the way that I enjoyed lots. I enjoyed even more the attention payed to Alex's relationships to the others of his Cloak peer group---a little home schooled cluster of villains in training (I like school story-ish elements)--and to the tension of his illicit friendship with Kirby. The superpowers were interesting too, offering a nice variety of twisty talents.
I think it has tons of kid appeal for the nine or ten year old, for whom it will be fresh and new, and I can enthusiastically recommend it to that demographic! However, it's one that requires a certain amount of disconnect, perhaps, from the adult brain to truly enjoy, because it is predictable and not very subtle. I seem to have managed that disconnect just fine, because I swept through it, enjoying it very much (though I don't think I'll need to re-read it, to pick up fine points I missed). And I'll be on the lookout for the next book. It ends at an ending, but there's clearly more that needs to happen....
(I'm putting the sci-fi label on this one, because it's genetic mutation-ish...with high tech. gadgets).