Moving on from my usual go-to reads of historical fiction and murder mystery, I am delighted to share this gem of a book. The Green Girl and the Serum is the first book in the series by S. T. L. Armstrong, a wonderful sci-fi young adults series from a creative mind. Stepping back into reading Young Adult books means this review is based on what teenage me would have thought. The process of analysing the text in this way has been really enjoyable and a nice exercise. Thank you to the author for this opportunity!
Meet the Author
Hailing from the UK city of Stoke-on-Trent, author S. T. L. Armstrong became interested in writing as a hobby, being an avid reader and creator of fan fiction. While working in Business Administration and gaining qualifications in Children’s Care Learning and development, Armstrong became more and more enveloped in writing. By 2019, the first book of the Green Girl series was published (The Green Girl and The Serum). The following year with the pandemic, the lockdown across the UK made ample time for the working on a further three books in the series with many more to come! In his spare time, our author likes going out on long walks with his dog, has a keen interest in food and drinks, loves photography, traveling, reading, and watching films and documentaries.
***THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE***
It is a pleasure to review debut novels. Packed full of creativity, imagination, and raw potential. It is such a joy to be gifted the insight of someone else’s creative mind. The Green Girl and The Serum is no exception to this. I see inspiration has been drawn from many places, but the ideas and concepts are refreshing and fun.
About the Book
For the readers who love Marvel, D.C., and particularly X-men, The Green Girl series is calling! The debut of this series centers around the concept behind the Mega Humans, in particular a girl named Stacey. The world where our story takes place is exciting. There a serum, originally designed as a cancer cure, gave its test subjects superpowers, and in some cases changed the colour of their skin. This is where Stacey comes in, being a Mega Human with green skin. She is one of the good girls. Along with her boyfriend Ben, a powerful psychic, and their cohort, known as Haven. They strive to make peace between themselves and humans. All while trying to thwart the evil of the Mega Human terrorist group the Outcasts, lead by the powerful villainous Surge…
If you are someone who struggles with reading for long periods of time, this book has your back. The chapters are short and concise, packed with information, and very fast-moving. There are no long-drawn-out descriptions of landscapes or character details, it’s very straightforward and easy. This is not to say it is lacking in detail. For a teenager, this book reads quickly and easily, while staying fun.
Story and Characters
The story as mentioned before is very fast. The characters do not feel very unique in design, but this works for the style of the book. The main characters I have picked out are Stacey – the green girl, Ben – her boyfriend, Surge/Craig – The villain of the story. These three have a little more backstory and explanation given to them than the others and seem more prominent in the fighting and conversation throughout the book. I found in this book that Stacey’s personality and powers are only explored in the last 15 pages of the book, a nice way to move the series on. However, it would have been interesting to have a slow-burn development of the main character as well.
The main two factions represented in this book are two groups of humans with superpowers, the good guys are Haven, and the bad guys are The Outcasts. The two groups are written differently and I do find there are good v bad tropes used. It is very refreshing for me as a reader of heavy books, the bad guys having Stooge-Esque personalities, the good guys drinking whiskey and looking longingly into the distance. It is everything I want and expect from a superpower sci-fi without being cliche.
If I was told that the author was a fan-fiction writer before I jumped into this book I would not have believed it. The writing is clear, concise, and pretty much spot-on for the level of Young Adults. The use of vocabulary is relevant and varied. Looking forward to seeing what the next books bring!
My Rating (round up to 4/5)
A huge thank you to Sean for letting me review his work. As a disabled author with cerebral palsy and learning difficulties, I am blown away by your writing!