Move Over Wonder Woman, Shattergirl Is The New Superhero
A lesbian superhero book that will leave you thinking.
Shattered By Lee Winter
Imagine our world, but with superheroes, and not the ones we’re used to seeing in the Marvel and DC universes. The guardians arrived 100 years ago, signed a pact with humanity, and have been daringly and dutifully taking care of us “commons” ever since, intervening to help humans whenever and wherever possible. Now imagine that all isn’t as perfect as we’ve been led to believe. Despite the daily images and videos of heroic perfection churned out by the media, guardians have a dirty secret—some have been having psychological breaks, they sometimes die in their efforts to help during crises, and very occasionally they even drop out of contact and have to be tracked down. That is the world of Shattered by Lee Winter.
Lena Martin hunts and returns guardians who’ve gone rogue and with her 100% success record, she’s the best tracker the Facility has. It doesn’t matter that she’s sworn to secrecy by the NDA she signed, since she doesn’t have anyone in her life she’d want to tell about her job and the guardians that have turned out to be such a disappointment. She’s surprised when she’s tasked with finding and retrieving Shattergirl, the first lesbian superhero and one of the original 50 founders that arrived a century ago, seeking asylum from their destroyed home planet. When Lena finds her across the globe in the most alien looking place possible, she quickly learns that talking Shattergirl out of Socotra will be much more difficult than she’d originally planned. After 100 years of following the rules and saving humanity again and again, the powerful woman who can fly and hurl things just by using her mind is done and she’s not going back.
With politics being what they are in the United States and, frankly, the whole world, right now, Shattered feels very timely. The demand for absolute perfection from the guardians in all things make sense when you look at our current shift away from globalization, with right-wingers in many countries calling to close borders, deport illegal immigrants, and bar refugees. As far as we’ve come, we still have egregious inequalities and the fight between those who want to continue towards progress versus those who want to strip hard-won rights away from marginalized groups is ugly, making it no wonder that Shattergirl is tired of our garbage. And that’s not even the half of it.
Shattered is a much more thoughtful book than you might expect from a story about a superhero gone off the grid clashing with the tracker who’s been sent to retrieve her. At its center are two badass women, each who have lost faith: Lena in the guardians she once admired and Shattergirl in the humans she’s been saving ad nauseum. They’re the ultimate strong, guarded women, and as each shares their perspectives and experiences, it’s impossible not to understand exactly how they became the way they are. They are not easy to identify with, and occasionally say and do things that mean they’re not even necessarily easy to like, but they are so clearly and cleverly drawn that it’s impossible not to admire the author’s skill in bringing them through their individual journeys to who they are by the end of the book.
Fans of Lee Winter will be impressed yet again by her versatility as an author. Shattered is nothing like Requiem for Immortals or The Red Files, each of which were so different that they felt like they were written by two separate people. If you’re a diehard fan of hers like me, you’ll want to pick this one up. And if you haven’t read anything by her before, this is a great place to start. It’s a book that will roam around your brain for days after you’re finished, thinking about humanity and hope despite our current circumstances.