We Could be Heroes by Mike Chen is a refreshing, light take on the superhero origin story. Two misfits, Jamie and Zoe, become unlikely friends when they meet in a support group for amnesiacs and realize that they’ve both had the same strange experience. Both woke up one day with no memories of their former life, but with extraordinary new powers.
The story is set in the fictional city of San Delgado, which could easily be any major city in the United States. This fictional location helps Chen bring a grounded, everyday quality to what could have been a larger-than-life tale. Small, funny details like awful neighbors and Jamie and Zoe’s support group allow readers to slip seamlessly into the shoes of his otherwise remarkable protagonists.
Despite their powers, Zoe and Jamie are normal, friendly humans who want little more than to be happy, and their heartfelt interactions and charming dialogue are the backbone of We Could Be Heroes. Zoe is driven to learn more about her past and who she was, while Jamie merely wants to retire to an island with his cat, Normal. Together, they save lives, learn about themselves and try to defeat the bad guys. Jamie and Zoe genuinely care about each other, and while their mutual trust certainly takes a while to build, their genuine respect and love for each other will slap a smile on even the gloomiest of readers.
Speaking of love, there is zero romance in this book (just like this reviewer’s cold, cynical heart appreciates), and it’s for the best. The lack of romance between main characters or with side characters allows Chen to focus wholly on his two protagonists. If any other subplots or characters stole the spotlight, this story would have felt rushed or poorly paced. Instead, We Could be Heroes is a well written, elegantly structured tale of joy and friendship.