Monday, July 8, 2013
Hero by Perry Moore
I've been dreading reviewing this book because I really don't know how to do it justice. But I need to review it because if you haven't read it already, you NEED TO! People have been telling me this for a long time, but I left it unread on my shelves anyway for far too long....and then finally read it and holy freaking WOW. It's amazing.
Let me start by saying how sad I am that we'll never have more books by Perry Moore because he was a true treasure to the human race. This book is a true gift. I listened to the audiobook of it and it begins with Stan Lee talking about how important this novel is. How it's a superhero tale unlike any other, but with themes that we often see in superhero tales just the same. Themes of self discovery, themes of courage, themes of identity.
What Moore did with this book was beautiful. He introduced us to Thom, a teenager with the superhuman ability to heal others with his touch, an ability that he's just discovering. He's the son of a mother with the power of invisibility (a little symbolism there ya think?) and a father who has no superhuman abilities but was still once one of the worlds greatest superheros to exist based solely on his own man made strengths.
Like most young heroes, Thom's story is a story of finding himself, learning his identity...but his story is twofold as he is also gay and struggling to keep his head above water in a world that doesn't always accept him for who he is...both as a gay male or as a kid with superhuman abilities. He struggles more than anything with his father who accepts him as neither.
Thom joins the tryout groups for "the league" unbeknownst to his father as his father has no respect for superheroes anymore after the world turned his back on him after a great tragedy. Thom's father doesn't even know that Thom has superhuman powers. His father has also made it clear to Thom that he's not the biggest supporter of the lgbt community in so many words.
I could go on and on about the plot of this book because there's so much packed into this book. There really is. It's filled with a cast of some of the most amazing characters I've ever been introduced to and the action of the novel is top notched. But it's perfectly balanced with a highly personal story as well. It reads like a highly engaging graphic novel, but set in a traditional novel form, yet it's combined with the beauty of a highly crafted coming of age story...not that those two things are exclusive from one another.
What I loved more than anything about this book was that there wasn't a single character that was perfect. Not one character in the book who didn't have flaws. At one point, I think there was something that aggravated me about every character in the book. And I loved that. Because Perry Moore created characters that were perfectly human, not idealized versions of humans. Even our superheroes can be assholes sometimes.
He also doesn't hold back. There are things that happen in the book that aren't ideal. This isn't a perfect book. Well....it is a perfect book, but it's not a utopic book. Things happen that rip at your heart and make you want to scream "oh no, can't it just be a different way please?" But life doesn't work that way. In a way it was refreshing to read a book written like this. I can almost picture Perry Moore writing this book, writing a scene and going back and changing it saying "no, that's not honest." It's a portrayal of the world as it is despite it being a novel with superheroes flying in the sky and alien invaders. But being as honest as it is, it's a book that you'll undoubtedly love...that will make you laugh, it will make you angry, will make you have to remind yourself to breathe, will make you squirm, make your heart beat a little bit faster for various reasons and undoubtedly make you cry. I think it made me do the latter for more personal reasons, but still...prepare the tissues for this one. And READ IT! Don't be like me and let it sit on your shelves for years to come :p