Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What We're Reading: Hero by Perry Moore

Thom Creed is a typical teenager: his parents are separated and he’s living with his father, a blue collar worker that doesn’t understand him, he’s balancing working a part time food service job, volunteering at the Community Center and his commitment to his high school basketball team. Like most teenagers, he also has some secrets he’s trying desperately to keep from his father, like the fact that he has just damaged the family computer trying to hide the sites he’s been visiting, the fact that he is developing superpowers, most likely given to him by his absent mother, and that he’s gay and has a crush on The League of Superhero’s poster-boy Uberman.

When Thom accepts an invitation to try out for The League, he is teamed up with Ruth, who sees the future, Scarlett, who can control fire, Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone as sick as he wants by touching them and Kevin/Golden Boy, who has super speed and a super attitude to match. This unlikely team must learn to trust each other and work together to solve the mysterious deaths of several League members.

Hero is set in an alternate reality populated by caped & cowled superheroes (just an adjective or two away from a copyright suit from the owners of DC comics). There’s even a mysterious “vigilante” that operates outside of the League’s purview and has his own secrets. Most of the story takes place in the suburbs of a major metropolis that has recently suffered a disaster of 9/11 proportions that was not prevented by the costumed community and for which Thom’s father, a disgraced former superhero himself, has become the scapegoat.
The “secret identity,” a staple in costumed superhero stories, is given an interesting tweak in this story where everyone has secrets and no one is what they appear on the surface. And when Thom is faced with difficult choices, he realizes that he must choose what type of person, and hero, he really wants to be. Hero is Perry Moore’s debut novel and, while the story seems clear cut, it takes several unexpected twists and turns as more is revealed about the characters. The story is told from Thom’s perspective, whose voice is clear and authentic, and many of the situations will both resonate with teenagers and sound remarkably familiar to adult readers that remember that period of self discovery.

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