Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Page 69: The Crashers

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

we put Magen Cubed's The Crashers up against the test!

Set up page 69 for us (what are we about to read):

This page from the sixth chapter follows Adam Harlow, one of the main characters, as he tries to get through his daily life with his newly discovered superhuman strength. However, superpowers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, as he’s quickly learning.

What’s the book about?

The Crashers is a superhuman sci-fi/fantasy novel following five people who survive an act of domestic terrorism. They are former detective Kyle Jeong; single mother Norah Aroyan; Afghanistan veteran Adam Harlow; the genius Clara Reyes; and the dying Bridger Levi. These five strangers emerge from the incident to discover they’ve gained powers, but have also lost the ability to die. Dealing with the fall-out of the attack, they must figure out how to take care of each other in a city that’s quickly spiraling out of control if they want to save their home from itself.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the books overall theme?

This page deals with the effects of both Adam’s PTSD and his superhuman strength, and how they manifest in his life. For Adam, strength and powerlessness feel the same way, in how they alter his ability to interact with the world around him. Strength can help as well as harm, and Adam’s learning that in this part of the story.

Trauma and survival are key themes to the book. Each character is rebounding from a unique series of losses, anxieties, and defeats. All of their new abilities fit into their respective journeys of healing, and help them reclaim their lives after the trauma of the attack that left them superpowered. At this point, Adam hasn’t found that balance, and is still figuring his powers out.

In that respect, I think page 69 offers an accurate sense of what the rest of the book is about.


Adam killed the toaster first. It was an accident. He was trying to place his whole wheat into the slots when he busted the cover off and crushed the flimsy metal inside. The microwave went next when he ripped the door off without even realizing. The shattered coffee pot and ripped cabinet hinges followed. He bent a wrench in half at the shop when a door slammed, and he had to kick it across the floor before anyone else could notice what he did. He ripped the door from his car after work on Friday evening and spent his entire Saturday afternoon putting it back on.

Strength wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. In the movies and the comic books, it was a plot device—a cheap trick to use at parties. No one ever talked about what it was really like to be so strong. It poured out of his muscles like steel and snapped his spine straight when he least expected it to, turning him into an unmovable object without his consent. Life was fraught with danger now. It was filled with held breaths and hands kept tucked away. The prospect was a terrifying one, forcing Adam to take up even less space on the sidewalk and inside crowded elevators. One miscalculation could crush and maim.

In a way, nothing really changed. His body wasn’t his; it was still a cage that kept him separated from everyone else and afraid of what might happen if he let another person get too close. Before, he would break if touched, but now he could break other people. Nothing about it was fair, but he had no say in that, either. The only time he didn’t feel so fragile was when he bent over a car engine. Work at the shop was more than work to Adam. It paid the bills and kept a roof over his head, but it was his church. His tiny altar at Bob’s Repair and Restoration was the only safe place he had left. A sea of noise and grease and grubby, metal parts, it afforded him a consistent stream of puzzles to take apart, tease out, and put back together again.

When he didn’t have work, maintaining Betty occupied his time. Just as before, it made him feel safe. He changed the oil, tweaked the engine, and gained satisfaction going to the junkyard for spare parts. The Barracuda was a masterpiece in the making. He’d hauled its disused shell from his neighbor’s backyard before his sixteenth birthday. Alone with his car or in the guts of some stranger’s SUV, he could finally breathe. Strength didn’t matter there; only the silence mattered.


Magen Cubed is an author of novels about monsters, superheroes, and various other kinds of strangeness. Her first novel Fleshtrap was released in 2013 from Post Mortem Press, and her superhero fiction series The Crashers kicks off with its first book in 2016. The Crashers: Koreatown is coming in 2017, along with several horror/paranormal romance novels about monsters and the people who love them. Magen also lives in Texas with a little dog named Cecil.

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