Title: Hero: A Novel
Author: Perry Moore
ISBN: 9781423101956
Pages: 428 pages
Publisher/Date: Hyperion, c2007.

I was the one who’d stopped the threat and saved the day back in the Simulated Training Area. I deserved to make that team more than anyone else. I wasn’t going to let them get away with this. They weren’t going to walk all over me. I turned around. […]
I approached Justice, ready to chew him out. I was going to tell him off for abandoning my father when he needed him the most, remind him that he was supposed to live up to his name, and not just when the cameraas were rolling. I poked Justice on the shoulder with my index finger like I was mashing a beetle into his back. He turned his head, and I spun him around by his shoulder. Shock registered on Silver Bullet’s and Golden Boy’s faces. My lower lip trembled and a new thought suddenly entered my head. Screw the speech; I wanted to clock him. I clenched my fist, and Justice looked at me, surprised.
“Congratulations, Thom. You made the team.” (130-131)

High schooler Thom Creed is used to being a loner, especially when your dad is blamed for the biggest national disaster on record. His dad doesn’t let that or the loss of his hand on that day slow him down, and he attends all of his son’s basketball games. Thom gets an invitation to try out for the league of superheros that disowned his father all those years ago. While he’s excited about the prospect of becoming a superhero and discover his developing powers, he know better to tell his father. But this isn’t the only secret that Thom is keeping from his father. In a world of super heros and super villians, it seems like everyone has their own secrets including his missing mother, his teammates, and his father. Who can you turn to when there is noone to trust?

Perry Moore writes a compelling novel. The character development is top notch, with a friend of mine calling them “complex and realized” which I agree with. Thom’s got a lot going on, and he alternetly runs away from his problems and confronts them head on, depending on his mood. There are a multitude of relationships happening, and each one seems to have its own ups and downs. As Thom describes his rag-tag group of hero wannabes, “A leader that wants to kick some ass, some bitchy girl with a major attitude problem, a geriatric precog, a guy who should probably be quarantined at the Center for Disease Control, and me, just your average, ordinary, gay teen superhero.” (149) They aren’t the only ones, as Thom’s father and mother both evolve through Thom’s eyes as characters with involved motives, feelings, prejudices, and pasts.

I think it’s the gay aspect of Thom’s life that brings the most intrigue. You don’t hear about gay superheros as an authentic description, and more often it’s used as a derogatory term due to their tights and costumes. I’m grateful thought that Moore doesn’t overemphasize that aspect of Thom’s life. In my opinion there are too many books about homosexuals that would make that the only focal point of the plot, but in Hero it’s not so. This is an action-packed book, with several fights between villians and heroes, and the story is about a hero who happens to be gay struggling against bad guys, as opposed to a gay super hero who struggles against his homosexuality or prejudice because of his sexuality.

Readers familiar with comics and super hero stories might find quite a few similarities with Moore’s characters and those classic stories. Justice’s story mirrors that of Superman, crashing onto an Earth farm, being adopted by an elderly couple, maintaining an alter-ego who wears glasses and works as a newspaper reporter, and having one major weakness. The fact that he leads the League makes the group of superheros Justice’s League, which isn’t a far stretch than the well known Justice League. Wonder Woman becomes Warrior Woman, the Flash becomes the Silver Bullet, and portions of Batman’s history is super-imposed on Thom’s father’s history. One of Thom’s teammates briefly attended an instution that sounds remarkably like X-Men’s Xavier Institute. I’m not sure if he meant it as an homage to the greats who came before, or if these similarities were meant to be a parody.

One problem I do have with the book is that the charcters seem to grow exponentially by the end of the book. There is no mention of the problems facing them, and all resemblance of Thom as a teenager has disappeared by the final page. It seem like they became 20 somethings, striding toward their future. My friend who also read the book felt that it was difficult to pick out his intended audience, and I agree with that too. After the convience of making the main character a high schooler wore off, he seemed more like a displaced graduate then a dependent teenager.

Overall, I feel I would recommend it to teens. It’s an amazing story, even with the slights quirks mentioned, and I think the minimalist cover will draw them in.