Hero by Perry Moore

Summary from Goodreads:

The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father's pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he's been asked to join the League - the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he's gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide; but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League.

To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he'll have to come to terms with his father's past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.

The Good Stuff:

1. It's an underdog story. If you're the type who loves rooting for the underdogs, the dark horses, the unlikelys of this world, then this story may just be for you because this is what Thom and his crew were. A ragtag group of misfits that may just belong to the bottom of the superhero pole but in all their hapless glory, they are far from pathetic, and instead you will find yourself rooting for them. 

2. The world building. I think Perry Moore painted a nice super hero world in his story. Think Sky High. There's a league of super heroes supervising the hero training of newbies. They also have heroes and sidekicks. With the possibility of sidekicks making it as heroes eventually. But I found the deviation from the usual superhero trope of having a secret identity, a unique element. There is no Clark Kent to Superman. They come out and are celebrated in  public  as they super heroes they are. Capes, masks, and all. It was a nice and refreshing touch.

3. The characters.
  • The protagonist, Thom Creed, is gay. I've read quite a number of books with gay characters in them but they were mostly delegated as minor characters. The best friend, the brother, the classmate. Plus, the issue of being gay weren't tackled with as much earnestness and gusto as the one found in this story. With Thom Creed, I truly felt how difficult it must be for a teen to deal with a sexuality issue. The bullies, the lies, the hiding, the struggle to fit in and yet to be truly yourself. I think the whole coming out of the closet business was just made genuine and handled with much care, which I very much appreciated. I found Thom's voice to be really honest.
  • The minor characters were sympathetic characters. I found myself drawn into their own stories aside from the one of Thom Creed's. Perry Moore has managed to cloak most of them in some mysterious back story that will make you read on to find out. Ruth is my absolute favorite. She is a smart-ass and kick-ass old lady with a painful past.
The Bad Stuff:

1. Some of the heroes are patterned after the ones we are already familiar with. Warrior Woman resembles and Amazonian Lasso and Shield Wielding Princess. Justice closely matches an alien superhero with super strength that weakens when near a certain green colored space rock.

2. Predictability and cheese in some parts. I had an idea of who the mysterious Dark Hero was and I was right. so no surprises there. The major show down with The major villain was was more or less filled with the usual cheesy action sequences.  The doing an atlas, (holding of buildings), then this big sacrifice that may just closely resemble a scene from a one or two superhero movies we've had. 

3. Inconsistencies regarding Thom Creed's healing powers. Sometimes, I found myself wondering why he did not just heal a certain character. Or, why the healing was done later rather than sooner.   

But, over all, it is a wonderful and surprising story that goes beyond tights and capes and masks and all the fun and cheesiness of heroing. It's really more about the identity struggle, of being gay and a superhero at the same time, about eventually coming to terms about who you are and finding freedom in it.

Awards Received:  Lambda Literary Foundation Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult(May 2008), Gaylactic Spectrum Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008),YALSA Top Ten Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2012)

AWBRC Entry No. 6

Comments

  1. Hi Tin, First, congratulations on winning a prize for last month's review! HERO sounds worth reading, especially for the rare portrayal of a gay superhero. I'm glad you pointed out the parts you found predictable or not-so-innovative, which makes for an honest review.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Joyce Ray! Overall, Hero is really a worthy read. Plus, it's a lot of fun. And I very much appreciate the compliment and the congratulations! :D

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