Tuesday, November 16, 2010
by Perry Moore
Lambda Literary Award for Children's & YA 2008
Thom Creed is every parent's dream child. He's the star of the basketball team, a good student, and the winner of a volunteer award for his work at a local youth center. He also has two rather large secrets: he has super-powers and he is gay. Add to the equation the fact that his father is a disgraced former superhero (he caused numerous civilian casualties in a World Trade Center type attack, where the terrorists were replaced by a planet-destroying alien) and you have the formula for a by-the-books coming-of-age novel with a few twists here and there.
When I first heard of Hero earlier this year after a member of my book club nominated it to be read, I was intrigued by the premise. I have always liked superhero fare, having grown up on Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League, and I was sold on the gay perspective. However, once I borrowed a copy from my local library, I was quickly disappointed, as it simply did not live up to my expectations. To begin with, the writing was very uneven. I realize that this was Moore's first novel, and as such, it may not be as polished as other works that I have read recently, but I seriously have to wonder if he had an editor. I frequently noticed typos (the worst being when an exclamation point was incorrectly referred to as an explanation point), and there seemed to be some inconsistencies (at one point Thom encounters a group of villains he's never seen or heard of, but they are all referred to by name in the narration). To be perfectly honest, I considered putting this book aside after the first fifty or so pages, but I kept chugging along because of its award.
I am glad I kept reading, as the last third of the book is much tighter than the other two-thirds and the world destruction plot was interesting. This is not to say it was original, though, as I figured out most of what would happen long before it did, from the identity of Dark Hero to that of the assassin haunting the league. The characters were likable, but generic, and I found the bigotry against Thom to be a little unbelievable. Taunts from peers made sense, but graffiti on his house? The latter certainly never happened to my gay friends, and we lived in a pretty conservative town.
All in all, Hero is something to recommend to nerdy teens who might otherwise have no fictional GLBT role-model, and it's a decent effort for a first-time author.