Nine year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution or the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the apRead Review
Funny, exciting novel about a teenage boy growing up with two secrets: one, that he has superpowers - two, that he's gay. And he gets to save the world . . .
Thom Creed has secrets. Big ones he is forced to hide from everyone around him. It doesn’t help that his father is a disgraced superhero who has been publicly shunned by the League (the body of superheroes responsible for contemporary justice and do-gooding). Thom doesn’t fit in at school and has been kicked off the basketball team for weird epileptic fits. Just when he’s about to run away to save his himself and his father from public humiliation, he is invited to train for the League. Another secret he must keep. There he is put on a team of outcasts – Scarlett the fiery girl with her own secrets, Typhoid Larry who can’t get close to anyone (without making them physically sick) and Ruth, the wise old woman who breaks the archetype. Hero is an engaging story of love, secrets, growing up and redemption which nicely combines the action of a graphic novel and the personal development journey of young adult literature.
I picked this book up almost solely based on the striking cover and ended up really enjoying it. It’s actually the second book I’ve read this year centred around male adolescent identity and sexuality (the first being Sprout by Dale Peck ) and it was fascinating to note the reoccurring issues and similarities between the two. I probably preferred Hero solely due to the superhero and villain/Watchmen type world Moore creates. It made me wish I knew more about comics/graphic novels and superhero lexicon as I’m sure for every reference I got, there was probably another twenty I missed. The whole masked superhero motif works perfectly as a symbol of identity – though it is interesting to note that Thom doesn’t really seem to wear a costume and cape (but possibly has the most to hide). Moore creates an engaging father-son relationship, which for me ended up being my favourite part of the book (and made for a memorable ending), though I did feel some other sub-plots were not as fully executed as they could have been.
Thom is an interesting protagonist and I did feel myself draw to his story. I did want to know more about his power and did wish he had been portrayed as more accepting of himself (trying not to give too much away here!) and that could have ultimately lead to a stronger, more fulfilling piece. There were definitely parts of Hero I could have done with more of (his father’s own career, the League – pretty much every League character could have had their own spin-off - like the gloriously accessorised Galaxy twins - and Perry Moore does a lot in such a short space). In saying that, Hero is still a definitely worthy read.
Perry Moore apparently has a film adaptation in the works, and a sequel on the way – I’d love to find out what happens to Thom, Scarlett, Typhoid Larry, the League and even Golden Boy a few years down the line. Also from his website, Perry Moore has an intriguing list of homophobia in comics (from the amount of superhero slash on fanfiction.net alone, I’m amazed there has been so few gay characters in major comics) which also makes for some very interesting and thought-provoking reading. It can be read here.