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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Hero* by Perry Moore- young adult book review
by Perry Moore
Grades 9+ 432 pages Hyperion May 2009 Paperback    

Hero is one-half coming-of-age story about a teen coming to terms with his sexuality and one-half fantasy novel about the same boy joining a new league of superheroes. Moore crafts both halves together to tell one wholly unique and touching story.

Thom Creed is the son of Hal Creed - aka Major Might, a disgraced former superhero who is trying to forget his glory days and instead work at his dreary factory job. Thom, however, has to deal with the twin difficulties of being a gay teen in a mostly homophobic town and acquiring mysterious healing powers.

His new healing abilities reach the attention of the local superhero league, and they invite Thom to join. He no sooner joins the team as probationary trainee then a murderer appears out of the shadows, killing established heroes and leaving Thom and his new friends to investigate the murdererís identity. Is it a supervillain out for revenge, or do they have a traitor in their midst? Could the killer be a hero gone bad - even Thomís dad himself?

Hero tells both the fantastic and realistic sides to the story in a deft, clever manner. The superhero plot is handled quite neatly. Various characters possess powers of mind-reading, creating fire, super speed and strength, but they still live in the real world.

The manner in which the charactersí powers are handled shares similarities to the TV series Heroes, in which people with fantastic abilities still have to deal with real-world problems such as romances gone awry, rebellious teenage children and illness. In one scene, a character reveals her ability to start fire but also has to go to the doctor for chemotherapy treatments.

Thomís sexuality is also handled in a strongly realistic fashion. He develops a crush on a fellow basketball player but keeps his feelings hidden despite his misery for fear of ostracism. His struggles with homosexuality parallel his superpowers and training.

In one of the saddest scenes, he defends a character at a press conference and receives ostracism from the town, his colleagues and his father. Thom fully comes into his own as he handles both of these difficulties, becoming self-assured in his abilities and his love life.

Hero tells a familiar story loaded with many common superhero tropes, but Moore gives it a unique twist by introducing a protagonist who, while an outcast, ultimately becomes a hero in more ways than one.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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