Book Title: Hero
Author: Perry Moore
Genre(s)/Categories: Queer Lit, Superhero Lit, Fantasy??
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.88 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Brief Synopsis: “The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League – the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay.” (pulled from the book’s Goodreads profile)
My Review: This was an extremely fun YA queer superhero story. What more do you need? 😉 Seriously though – when I was standing in Powell’s bookstore reading the back of this book, I knew I had to buy it. This checked a lot of the boxes I use when looking for a new book to read: Superhero story? ✔️ Young adult novel? ✔️ Queer protagonist? ✔️
I think a lot of us get that superhero stories are perfect allegories for being queer in our society (or being a member of another group that is not the “norm” in our society). Feeling the need to hide who you are from most people in your life? Not sure if you will be accepted if you reveal who you really are? Feeling disconnected and different from other people in society (even some of your closest friends and family members)? I’m not saying that is how all queer people feel or that peoples’ experiences are universal, I’m simply saying that there is a reason why superhero stories appeal to so many people. They call to the part in each of us that feels different from everyone else. They help us feel like maybe there is a reason why we are different. That maybe what makes us different is a strength or something we can use to help other people.
This book not only takes the superhero as allegory for queerness and runs with it, but also gives us a budding queer superhero who isn’t sure whether his father will accept either one of these identities. And it also gives us a potential love interest who rejects this society’s mainstream superhero culture (which is very corporate and concerned with image and hetero-normative) and saves people on his terms.
I loved the characters in this story. They were complex and unexpected and flawed and felt very real (or as real as people with superpowers can feel). Thom’s relationship with his father was complicated but loving, and his group of misfit friends were fantastic.
One of the things that I love about superhero stories is reading how that society reacts to these heroes. In this book, superheroes are very common – the large superhero organization regularly recruits and holds tryouts for new superhero trainees. I also love reading and seeing flawed superheroes. Because, let’s be real, everyone is flawed and no one is perfect. Not even YOU Captain America. 😜 (Team Cap all the way obvi) The superheroes in this book were very flawed and often arrogant and careless. And there were a few digs at many of the superheroes we know and love which was entertaining. Except for Wonder Woman, leave my girl alone Perry Moore! 😒
In terms of Thom’s queer identity, I’m going to rate it based on some of the things I look for when reading or deciding to read queer stories. I’m putting descriptions of the three main categories below since this is my first review I’m posting about a queer book, but in the future I will simply add a link for those who have questions. And for real, I’m not saying I am an expert or that queer stories should only be based on certain things, I’m simply rating some of the main things I look for when reading these types of stories. 😀
Angst: I will be using this to rate how much angst about characters’ queer identities there is in the book/story. I personally can only read so many super angsty coming out stories before it becomes bad for my mental health. I’m not saying all of my queer stories have to take place in some utopia where no one has any problem with their identity and the character is never bothered with feelings of guilt or shame, I just think it’s good to have a balance in our queer stories. And I know that sometimes I like to have a warning if a particular story is filled with angst so I can plan on reading it in sections or between other silly books. I will be using a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not very much angst relating to their queer identity and 5 being the character is dealing with a lot of negative feelings and reactions and you may want to be careful when reading it (if that is something that bothers you).
Coming Out: I will be using this category to rate how believable and positive/negative the characters’ coming out experiences are. Obviously, this may not apply in some instances since not all queer books are about coming out (Thank God!) but for most of these stories, there will be some facet related to coming out. This can be related to the character’s experience in coming out, how other friends/family members/co-workers react to the coming out and how their queer identity/coming out is treated by society. Again, this is rated on a 5 point scale, with 1 being a fairly chill and conflict-free coming out experience and 5 being a coming out experience that is a big, negative ordeal and negatively impacts the character in many different ways.
Believability: This category is for the times when you read a story/book with a queer character and you’re just kinda like 🤔. Sometimes this is because it is written by someone who isn’t queer or sometimes it is because the author relies solely on crazy stereotypes about queer folks without actually knowing any queer folks. So this is loosely based on how the queer character(s) is/are written, how their attractions to others and relationships are portrayed and how their queer identity is treated by others. Again, one a 5 point scale with 5 representing the most believable and 1 representing the 🤔 stories.
Here are my ratings for this story:
- Angst: 2.5/5 – not too much personal angst about his coming out/queer identity besides his worry about how a few certain people will react
- Coming out: 2/5 – even though this society is filled with superheroes and villains who can do crazy fantastical things and are sometimes from other planets, there are still some bigoted fools who give Thom a hard time
- Believability: 5/5 – Thom’s crushes and romantic entanglements felt very real to me (as real as a society with superheroes can) and I was invested in his relationships with others.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a fun, fast read. Some of the other reviews I read had issues with the writing style and quality but it didn’t really bother me. The author, Perry Moore, was a screenwriter and producer, as well as being an author, so that might be part of the reason people didn’t like the writing style – it did feel a bit screenplay-ish at times but I liked it. Great for anyone who is looking for a fun, queer superhero story. 🤓
Click here for the Goodreads page for this book, here for Amazon and here for B&N. Sadly, the author passed away in 2011 and will not be writing any more books or producing any more Chronicles of Narnia films. 😦 There was a TV show adaptation in the works years ago but I haven’t been able to find any recent info on it. If anyone has anything, please let me know! I would love to see this book adapted to film or television.