Pros: superheroes! Boys kissing! Er…that’s sort of it, and I may have lied about the superheroes, because they are also sort of a con.
Cons: lazy superhero rip-offs! Like
WonderWarrior Woman with her lariat and her island heritage, or Justice, the lone survivor of a planetary explosion who was then adopted by a nice earth-couple and whose kryptonite only escapes being literal kryptonite by being purple. And maybe these are clever winks to our own superhero mythology? Let’s say that instead.
Because the rest of the book…you guys.
Ok, so Thom is a basketball star and a volunteer with illiterate children and a good son but also gay and this is tragic because his dad makes a point early on of being like, The Gays are doin it rong. Just so you know, everyone? I am opposed. Oh and also his dad is a disgraced superhero, because this one time he opted to save the entire planet but had to let the
World Trade Center Wilson Tower go down in flames in exchange. Literally urrrrbody in the world is pissed at him for this very sensible trade, especially goobers in trucker hats and fat kids with fanny packs. To recap: tragic dad who hates teh gays, of which his son is one. Oh and also Thom’s mom has run off.
*offers Kleenex* No? Ok, hmm. So Thom develops a superpower where he can heal people and joins the League of Whatever and is put on a low-level squad, and one of his teammates is a wise-cracking, cigarette-smoking old lady who hides a terrrrrible sekirt, that she once eloped with a colored fellah and then when her people came to take him away she let them, and then when she saw him years later working as a janitor, she left the building.
Was that you sniffling? Ok wait, because another of his teammates is a super-bitchy pizza delivery girl, only upon closer inspection she’s only bitchy because she is POOR and can’t afford CHEMO for her CANCER and also her MOM’S CANCER DO YOU NEED A KLEENEX YET?!
You have to earn my pathos, Moore. You can’t just fling Lifetime movies at me until I weep (that’s 3 am on a Wednesday’s job).
Anywhatz, someone is killing superheroes and Thom’s team apprehends the perp what they think did it and everyone is all *hoists to shoulders, holds press conference* but then Thom realizes that he was having his first gay kiss with said perp when one of the heroes was killed, but instead of pulling someone aside and being like, We caught the wrong dude, y’all, he INTERRUPTS A THE PRESS CONFERENCE to inform the WORLD that he was *significant look* with the suspected party at the time of the murder.
And thus in one fell swoop he both outs himself to the world and his gays-hating dad, AND makes the entire League of Muscled Avengers look like tools. Everyone is miffed, and I am not sympathetic, me, because that was a dopey move with an obvious (but less PROBLEM-CAUSING and PLOT-MOVING) alternative.
So there’s that, and then Thom’s ultimate return and triumph as he saves the world with his rag-bag of broken-down partners and his newly-sympathetic dad and his love interest and whatever.
But then there’s also the unrelated but UNIGNORABLE issue of Moore’s inability to see a scene. Some authors are aces at painting mind-movies, but I’m not sure Moore’s own mind-movie is running both reels, which is killer when there is Whiz Bang KaPOW going on. I can’t be re-reading scenes to figure out who is punching what into whom.
Like, in one scene Thom falls and lands on a baddie, and ‘[a] pair of quick hands lifted me off the ground.’ Those hands are presumably Golden Boy’s, since he is the only person around and his superpower is Quickness. But three paragraphs later (in which Thom has not lain back down), ‘Golden Boy didn’t offer me a hand to get up. I got the message loud and clear and got up just fine on my own.’ NO YOU DID NOT I SAW HIM LIFT YOU OFF THE GROUND JUST NOW. You may recall.
Or, like, ‘Justice pulled himself out of the crystal hole the instant Uberman flew after Goran.’ Buncha stuff happens (in which Justice is not pushed back into said hole). And then, ‘[a]s Goran and Uberman disappeared into the smoke, Justice emerged from the crystal hole.’ He cannot emerge from a hole twice that is SUCH a quibble but when a book is action-packed the action must proceed from A to B, to be followed by C, or it must be magical realism and I must spit on it.
But the action (and everyone’s behavior) is always at the mercy of what the plot is trying to do, so if a building starts falling and then like eighteen things need to happen before it lands, by gum those eighteen things have time to happen. Formerly wicked-speedy superheroes will take, like, ten minutes to get over here if you need to rescue some schoolchildren in the interim.
Or, like, at one point Thom is holding hands with a whack of children in a burn unit so he can heal them all at once and the nurses run screaming for a security guard or a doctor to pull them apart, because the plot needs this time for Thom to see what he’s capable of. But for crying out loud, they are child burn victims, nurses. You don’t think you can break that chain?
And then some things seem like Moore just forgot he’d done them, like when you copy-paste bits of your essay around but leave a sentence fragment hanging. If someone formerly nice to you starts unaccountably being a douche-hole, there needs to be a reason for that too, EVEN IF IT’S JUST that hobbling trope, the I-got-scared/I’m-too-dangerous/somehow-this-is-for-your-own-good excuse. You know what? I don’t even need that. But at some point, later when said person is being pleasant again, the first person needs to at least be like, Why you be a jerk? The second person can say WHATEVER HE WANTS at this point, so long as that bizarre Jerk Phase is accounted for.
You guys, it pains me deeply to disagree so thoroughly with The Book Smugglers, with whom I am otherwise usually in such accord. Go read their review, because it gives Hero a perfect score and there are clearly paragraphs of things to recommend about this book, including and especially it being about a gay kid but not exclusively about his gayness as though that were his sole character trait, which I feel is an important category of book and which is why I wanted to love this book so hard. But we (meaning the royal ‘we,’ meaning me) are equal-opportunity scrutinizers here at the Done Read. I got hung up on my hang-ups, as usual, and couldn’t get past ‘he said without an expression.’ Superfluous indefinite articles, you will be the death of me.
Five caterpillars, and
I hope Perry Moore has an internet-blind-spot for my sandbox here. Moore apparently passed away earlier this year, which makes me feel both better and worse about posting this review.