Author: Perry Moore
I do not own the content taken from this novel. All rights belong to Perry Moore and Hyperion.
Excerpt from page 1:
“I NEVER THOUGHT I’d have a story worth telling, at least not about me. I always knew I was different, but until I discovered I had my own story, I never thought I was anything special. My destiny began to unfurl during my very last game at school. What started with an accident on the court ended with the single most devastating look I ever got from my father. And it made me want to die.”
I like the intertwining of Thom’s sexuality with the idea of superheroes. I’ve never seen this done in a YA novel before and I enjoyed it. There are some drawbacks though. Some of the superheroes and villains resemble Marvel and DC characters. This isn’t too much of an issue but when you look at the mention of the Silver Surfer, it instantly brings to mind the Fantastic Four. Even this isn’t bad compared to Justice, whose whole story arc is remarkably similar to Superman’s:
- Superman is an alien. Justice is an alien
- Superman’s home was destroyed. Justice’s home was destroyed
- Superman is from Kansas. Justice is from Kansas
- Superman’s weakness is kryptonite. Justice’s is a similar (purple) stone
- Superman is invulnerable. Justice is invulnerable (both sharing most of the same abilities)
I also wondered about Scarlett and how her clothes didn’t burn off when she lit up and how the Spectrum was murdered in the lab and no one thinks to put two and two together and deduce logically who the culprit could possibly be. Instead, the heroes venture out on a crazy quest to apprehend every villain in the vicinity. I can’t deny though that the plot, although similar to the comics, is well-thought-out and feels fresh.
I don’t like Thom as a narrator. I’m not even sure I like him as a character. Scratch that, I just don’t care about Thom. His narration is like a bag of nachos without the jalapeno kick. Moore’s narrative voice comes across, at times, like a female’s and the words go against the character:
“He wiped a long strand of luscious platinum hair out of his face and smoothed it back over his ear.” (77)
He might have gotten away with it once but it happens a lot and these thoughts do not reflect Thom as a character and they confuse and jar the reader’s ability to read and get lost in the moment.
The voice comes across as a bit too advanced for Thom in some of his language (“vestibule”/”anathema”/”sowing destruction”/”trim bare midriff”). It doesn’t matter that they may be interesting words or clever phrases in some cases as they don’t fit the vocabulary of a teenage boy.
Character is a grey area. Thom is weak both as a narrator and a character though there are glimmers of hope with other characters like Scarlett and Ruth. Thom’ fantasies about Uberman come across as a Mills and Boon story. Thom is described as a gay stereotype at certain stages in the novel (like his comments on men’s and women’s hair when it doesn’t fit with his character).
When we first meet Scarlett, she’s reading a NASCAR magazine and this simple piece of information tells us a lot about her character. She’s also just a badass. Ruth doesn’t care about the rules and her clairvoyance ties in with her character nicely, leaving opportunities that Moore takes to amp up the humour. The villains are believable and though similar to some comic book villains, Moore does well in making them seem fresh and new: Sig Sig Sputnik, Ssnake and Transvision Vamp.
Quality of Writing:
The writing isn’t as sharp as it could be. Thom uses formal language at times and it’s not in line with his character. I found myself becoming quite distant. The piece is peppered with clichés (“bone dry”/ “And then the unthinkable happened.”). The sentences run on far too long and are often clunky, and difficult to grasp on first reading. Moore also repeats some of the same words, particularly within the same page and paragraph.
There are a number of occasions where Moore could capitalise on details that I found interesting but instead, he brushes over these. And finally, while I read, I noticed how Moore will find three different ways of describing something in close succession where one would do.
Despite this, information is slowly released and the superheroes names and places in the story are dramatised rather than being told and over-egged. At times, there were some nice analogies like Thom comparing a child mesmerised by a Disney film to the first time he sees Uberman in person. The Americanisms further reinforce the setting (“patties”/”goofy”/”grocery store”).
There’s evidence of world-building here and I do get to see the world clearly through Thom’s eyes but sometimes, Moore could dramatise more. Thom tells us everything and we get a lot of lengthy description that pulls away from the plot. It gets to the point where you almost feel like you’re been presented with, let’s say, an apple, that it is, in fact, an apple and you’re tasting that apple and touching that apple.
I honestly haven’t read anything like this in a novel and it would be unfair of me to compare it to the comic book form. The voice could be a little stronger to stand out in the world of YA Fiction but in terms of content, the general idea feels fresh to the genre.
Good world-building but if you’re after something with a lot of bite, maybe give this one a miss.
Books You May Also Like:
Gone by Michael Grant – for fast-paced plot and super-powered content
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan – for the LGBT content and a heart-warming tale of finding love
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger – for similar discovery of self