Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hero



by Perry Moore

Okay, you gotta LOVE this premise.

Gay teen Thom has supernatural powers but can't let anyone (especially his Dad) know about his two secrets. Then the super-power secret gets out. He apprentices to the big-time League of Superheroes. When he comes out as gay he's kicked out.

But then someone's murdering Superheros and it's up to Thom (with the help of some Superhero friends) to pull it together and become a true...

Hero.

Did I mention there's even a romance?

Read more about Perry Moore (and the feature on him in "People" Magazine) here. And add your review of "HERO" in comments!

4 comments:

Rita said...

Wow, this sounds fantastic. I can't wait to read it!

Hayden said...

** review posted at my blog **

Perry Moore’s novel is the first book I picked up in a long, long time whose conclusion I didn’t at all welcome. I wanted the story to go on and on and on because it’s simply a fantastic read despite a few rocky patches. Watching my bookmark creep its way toward the end of the novel (and it’s a fairly long volume at that) was agonizing, but given the story’s quick, snappy pacing, the ending came barreling down on me when I wasn’t at all ready to put it down.

As a protagonist, Thom Creed is a darling. He’s awkward, self-deprecating, exasperating, but so gosh darned huggable. Yes, there are several moments when you’d like to smack him upside the head, but he learns - the hard way more often than not - to go about things better the next time ’round. As the hero of a young adult novel, he’s cuts a classic figure. Along with the pains of adolescene, he’s also got to deal with his sexuality, his family, and his superpowers. Moore doesn’t wax philosophical on the more serious issues such as discrimination, bigotry, etc. He simply describes the scenes and allows the readers to take them as they will. Even when Thom pauses to mull over his experiences involving homophobia, for instance, I didn’t once feel as though I were being lectured about it. The boy thinks about it, feels the pain and the confusion, and then moves forward more altered than he was a moment ago.

Of all the side characters, Hal Creed, a.k.a. Major Might, the is my favorite - not surprising, really, since much of Thom’s journey of self-discovery involves his relationship with his father. There’s so much humor and fondness in the way Hal’s character is shaped throughout the novel. He’s both flawed and perfect in so many ways that in those scenes where father and son are together, I always feel as though Hal completely steals the spotlight from Thom. Even those scenes in which he’s absent (while Thom ponders his relationship with his father, for instance), Hal still turns into a presence that overpowers.

The novel’s pacing is really quick, with a few scenes here and there giving the reader some time to slow down to catch a breath before the next big adventure happens. On the whole, Hero is plot-driven, despite the first person narrative, which normally takes the reader deeper into a character’s mind, heart, and personality. Even with Thom’s coming-of-age experiences, therefore, the novel’s fast-paced and action-driven plot carries much of Hero’s reader appeal. To what extent does that hurt the novel’s personal angle? It hurts a little, I think. Characterization gets bulldozed by all the fight scenes and the mysteries, and I find myself at times caring less for Thom (despite my fondness for the boy). With all the backstories being offered up to us, there’s quite a bit happening that’s crammed into one volume, and I can see readers getting confused by so much information. That’s also what kept me from caring for the other side characters (Hal being the exception). So many side stories, so much action, and so little space.

I’m not too sure about some of the superheroes being too-close copies of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman (among others). I tried not to picture the original DC characters whenever I read those scenes where the superheroes take center stage because seeing Superman’s image in those scenes involving Justice took me away from the book (or at least lessened my connection with it). The superhero deaths and the mysteries surrounding them don’t feel satisfactorily dealt with as well, but I might have missed a few things in the course of reading the book. I’ll have to reread it to see if my questions get answered.

I actually don’t mind going back to read Hero over again. It’s engaging and fun with just the right mix of pathos and humor. If Moore plans to write a series, I’d love to see what he comes up with next.

I must also add that I’m now a diehard Typhoid Larry fangirl.

SMD said...

I just finished Hero and absolutely loved it. Thom was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the premise. It was darker than I expected (really, gay superheros don't make think of death and destruction), but that was just fine.

Thanks for collecting all this information - I have greatly expanded my library of gay YA lit and I'm enjoying the ride.

J. L. Bell said...

I thought Hero had a great premise, but stumbled by trying to do too much: too many problems, too many themes. And the plot depended on readers assuming the Hero universe works in a particular way like the DC Universe. So a mixed bag in the end. More thoughts here. I see you’re highlighting other superhero stories using similar premises, and I look forward to checking them out.