Saturday, May 01, 2010

Hero by Perry Moore

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself laughing out loud, but also being swept into the characters and their struggles, especially Thom's. I found this premise to be a hoot! The League, the tryouts, the bad guys and their plot, Typhoid Larry, Scarlett and Ruth are all great. But the underlying story of Thom's relationship with his father and his coming to terms with his sexuality make Hero an excellent coming-of-age novel.

I love character driven novels and this certainly fits the bill. I thought Moore did an excellent job developing these quirky characters and getting the reader vested in their lives and adventures. My heart broke for Thom as he tried to keep his secrets/identity from his dad, the disgraced former hero. His dad detests super-heroes and gays, at one point Thom's father says, "These people will never have a normal life. They are the ultimate downfall of our society." I would imagine many of our students feel this way if they aren't what their parents want them to be, and it may not be about their sexuality...it could be about grades, athletic abilities, looks etc...

I think one of the things that most appeals to me about this book is that it is not a typical GLBTQ piece of literature. Why can't gay teens be super heroes? I think this book makes a huge inroads into this genre. One reviewer comments, "It reflects teens' diverse reading interests; given the mainstream popularity of comics-inspired tales, the average, ordinary, gay teen superhero who comes out and saves the world will raise cheers from within the GLBTQ community and beyond." I would love to see a sequel which follows Thom and explores how he survives in his new skin.

I know this book might not have global appeal, but it certainly has a niche at the high school level. The students that I have given this book to have loved it. But universal appeal? I don't know. Do any ELA teachers think they might use it in the classroom? There is certainly lots of fodder for discussion.

I have been emailing Perry Moore, and he is wondering if we would post customer reviews of this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. He is considering visiting our school next year and since we cannot pay him his full fee, as compensation he is hoping we could "talk up" the book on these venues. Anyone interested???

14 comments:

Dawn said...

I enjoyed this book overall, but it was not a book that I couldn't put down. I liked the superhero idea and the various characters in the book, but I had many questions throughout.
1. If Thom had the power to heal, why didn't he heal Scarlett? He used his power at the end of the book to help give his crew immunity, but he couldn't help Scarlett. I just thought this was odd.
2. Were the villains really villains? In the end, Justice was the bad guy, and he tried to pin some of the bad things that happened on the villains. It just made me question if the villains were really good people.
3. I struggled finding the point of Thom's sexuality. I chalked it up to the author wanted to write about a male character who is gay because he could relate. I understand that one point made was that anyone can be a hero, but I feel like I needed more information on this or something else to fully understand the importance or point of it.
4. Can anyone explain the point of Goran's family history? I do not get the connection to the overall plot.
5. I wanted an answer to why Thom's mom left him. I know she loved Justice and not Thom's father, but why would she leave her son? This was very hard for me to accept. I didn't understand why she kind of gave clues about Justice but did not come right out and say that he was bad. I wanted her to stand up for her child in a more direct way.

Again, I did like the book. I just have many questions. While reading I felt that this book would make a very good movie! I think a movie would help me understand the many characters. I was glad Thom and his father came together at the end. It is too bad that they couldn't have found a connection earlier.

Maria said...

I really enjoyed the book. "Quirky" is a great way to describe the story. Dawn and I conversed a bit about the point of Thom's sexuality, but I saw it as a way to show that everyone has something to offer to society and differences should not be an issue. I like how the author took two stereotypical opposites (gay superhero) and made one character who encompassed both ideals. I think it shows the reader that people shouldn't be pigeonholed into one thing. I agree with Dawn in that I wanted to know more about Goran; the storyline around him seemed underdeveloped. He was intriguing and left the reader wanting to know more. After talking with Dawn, I also wonder why Thom couldn't or wouldn't help Scarlett with her cancer...or was that left to show that superheroes are not capable of everything and saving all people from all issues...! Not sure. Maybe if I read it again I would get more of an understanding of some of the unanswered questions that reamin (from Dawn). I can't wait to read more blogs about this one.

Kim Seeley said...

When I started reading the book I came into the library and asked Kathy, "What are you trying to do, torture me? Superheros? A bus ride that turns into a Spiderman movie?" However, once I got past that, I could not put this book down! I loved the development of the characters, especially when the Dark Hero was revealed as Goran. As quirky as it sounds (as I soon found out trying to explain the plot to friends), I really enjoyed it. I could sympathize with the gay issue of the book and you could tell the author was gay (is it my gaydar? haha) just by the way feelings were described. I didn't know how others would react to a gay character in a young adult novel, but I really appreciated this aspect. I was SO SAD to see Ruth go! I was up late reading with my little book light and I almost started to cry! I could see how the kids would like the plot, but it is too long for my 15:1 classes. I agree, would be a great movie! I would love to read a sequel to learn more. Kathy, sorry for busting on you so early, you know me, miss honest! This read was fantastic. I get sick of the same old same old, this was a great break for me!

Kathy J. said...

I've enjoyed reading your comments. I also wanted to know more about Goran! I liked Dawn's questions. Makes me really want to get him out here in the fall! Don't forget to go onto Amazon or Barnes and Noble to do a reader's review!

I agree with Maria's assessment of the gay superhero. I think it all has to do with dispelling stereotypes.

And Dawn brings up some valid issues...why doesn't he heal Scarlett? And why did his mom leave? Did the author purposely leave it vague so that more kids could relate. You all know I love pat answers and endings wrap things up in a nice bow...this did not! Was it because in real life there are sometimes no answers? Hmmm?

Dawn said...

Maybe there will be another book. It will be good to have the author here to ask some questions.

Cherie said...

When I first picked up the book and started to read, I couldn't seem to get into it. Maybe I was reading too quickly, but I felt the author was skipping around and not fully explaining things. Once I gave the book a fair shot, I did really get into it but I, like everyone else, have a number of unanswered questions.

1. I was curious also about the relevance of Goran's past in regards to the larger storyline. I also wondered why, after Thom stopped practicing with Goran, Goran would try to befriend the "Gary Coleman" kid who called Thom a faggot.
2. Even though Thom's mom left and was apparently forced to remain invisible to hide from Justice, why did she not try to make contact with Thom at least? When she did contact Thom I felt that she was simply concerned with preventing the major disaster rather than listening and assisting Thom work through his problems. Maybe she knew he had to discover himself, who knows?
3. Like everyone else, I wondered why Thom couldn't or wouldn't use his powers to heal the members of his team (I was devastated when Ruth died!!) but I have to admit I really liked the inclusion of Larry's character and unique "power"!
I feel that there were a lot of loose ends left at the conclusion of the book, so I am hoping that the author purposly did that to allow for a follow up book. I am interested in learning how Thom continues to grow as a person, and if just maybe his dad or mom somehow managed to survive!

Maria said...

Everyone, including me, wondered why Thom did not "heal" his friends...so upon further thinking, I wonder if it's to show the human side of the "super hero" in that there are some things that cannot be fixed; maybe some things are beyond even the superhero's ability.

As for the mom, maybe she remained invisible to Thom in order to protect him from the challenges of the superhero life. Remember that his dad wanted nothing to do with it - perhaps she agreed that being a superhero was not a good life to lead, but she, herself, was too immersed in it to get out. All speculation...any ideas???

ksalecki said...

I wish I had blogged about this book just after I first finished it, because I had a lot of ideas about the author's purpose and the deeper meaning of the book. I do remember that the main thing I got from the book is that things aren't always as they seem.

Right off the bat, I didn't realize that Thom was gay. He was the star basketball player and the son of a superhero- certainly not the stereotypical gay character. Also, Goran seemed like he was going to be Thom's arch enemy and he turned out to be such a great ally and also a great older brother. Then, of course, there is Scarlett and Golden Boy who I couldn't seem to find any redeeming qualities for until near the end of the book when you finally begin to understand them and the way they act.

The other obvious theme was the idea that there are all kinds of heroes, and some people who we may consider heroes are actually not heroes at all. First you had the motley crew of "heroes" on Thom's team- Larry, Ruth and Scarlett- not your stereotypical heroes, but all had their roles to play. Then there was Goran. Again, at first Goran appears to be one of the antagonists of the story and then you find out all he had been through in (I believe it was) Bosnia after his parents died and he became the parent to his younger brother and then turned out to be Dark Hero. Finally, there was Thom's father, who Thom and the rest of the world no longer saw as a hero, turned out to be the biggest hero of them all first by standing up for his son at work and then of course in the more traditional way of saving the world at the end.

It took me a while to get into the book. Like someone else mentioned, at first I felt the author was jumping around and I had a hard time following the plot line. I also had many of the same questions that everyone else seemed to have. There were some characters that I had a hard time warming up to (Typhoid Larry took a loooong time to appreciate). However, once I started looking at the deeper meaning of the book and learned more about the characters (I thought some of the character development was very good, while I agree other characters could have been developed further, but that would have made for a very lengthy book) I really did enjoy it and was glad to read a book from the perspective of a non-traditional character.

I think it would be interesting to talk with this author and look forward to seeing other works by him in the future

cvanslyk said...

I am so sorry it has taken me so long to blog on this book. I had a terrible time getting into it and I had to read pages over and over to get anything out of it. Superhero and fantasy type of literature is always difficult for me to concentrate on. I do think that some of my students who are really into that genre would enjoy the book. I agree with Kim that the length would be a little intimidating for most 15:1 students. About the time that Thom's mother appeared it got more interesting to me. I have many of the same questions that Dawn and Maria had. I would have liked to learn more about his mother, she showed up and then got eliminated rather abruptly. Since she was invisible most of the time, it didn't make sense that she was killed so easily and that Thom, with his healing powers, was unable to save her.
I really liked his father's character, even in the beginning. He was totally devoted to his son and loved him very much. However, it took Thom a long time to realize that. He seemed to be starved for affection and was able to find it in his League. They were all misfits in one way or another but were all very likeable. It was very sad when Ruth died and it would have been very nice if Thom could have helped her. However, even super heros seem to have their limits. I would like to see this book made into a movie and I would also like to read a sequel to it. I would like to see Thom's dad come back from outer space alive. It didn't make sense that he launched himself with Justice. Couldn't he have just launched Justice? It would also be interesting to learn more about him mom. Overall this was a good book, very well written and enjoyable. Even though I had to force myself to read the first half, the second half was engrossing.

Erika said...

Thanks everyone! I have been struggling to get into this book, but after reading your comments I look forward to finding time to finish it this weekend. I think it would be great to get the authoer in to anaswer our questions.

Erika said...

I have to admit that it took me forever to open up the book and even when I did, I wasn't skeptical. However, the other day a student saw the book on my desk and asked me the question, "Who is your hero?" because I don't really have one. That question has been something that has been really weighing on my mind...."Who is your hero?" I knew that it was that night that I needed to open up this book and dive in.

Once I started reading the novel the character development was so amazing that I was laughing out loud. The novel became a captivating quick read action and adventure novel. There were a lot of twists in the novel that I did not see coming at all.

The dedication page says, "to Everyone" and I think that is completely right on. Everyone can benefit from the book and asking themselves the question, "who is a hero, or who is your hero?" What are those qualities?

In Moore's book, Thom Creed isn’t your average hero. I thought the concept of a teenager with human emotions and superhuman powers was really original. I think this book can grab many readers attention and create very lively discussions in the classroom - character development, qualities of hero, sterotypes, super powers (what would yours be?), gangs, teenage struggles of love and friendship.

Overall, great book!

Wendy said...

I had a hard time with this book. Overall it was entertaining but left me with a lot of questions. The superpower idea was fun but the theme seemed to be developed only superficially. Thom could heal his "dead" teammates at the end and even regrow his fathers hands but those powers could have been better used earlier for Scarlett's cancer and his father's melted hand. Also, I couldn't identify with mom very well. I was expecting something along the lines of she was protecting her son from some evil power by staying away although she was really watching over him from afar. Her excuse for leaving did not work for me. I would have liked to see dad's character developed more. He seemed very interesting and a good guy but we never really saw that except for a little at the end. Thom's sexual orientation did not seem to fit the plot either. Maybe on the "finding yourself as a teen" level but not on its own. I don't think I would recommend this book.

rebeccakryger said...

I enjoyed this book; I think Maria put it best when she called it quirky. It has an interesting premise in that it deals with real issues, as in identity and family, but the superhero concept adds an interesting twist. There were points that I thought were too predictable, for example Goran being the Dark Hero. I felt like telling Thom, "Hello, its Goran!" after a few encounters between them. I also thought it was a little too convenient that the father who struggled with Thom sexuality died at the end and never really had to deal with it. The mom disappearing is interesting. I wonder if there is a sequel if she will be explained a bit more. I think there is a lot in this book that would appeal to students. The characters are interesting and are somewhat outcasts, which many students would probably appreciate. It was a bit long and that aspect might challenge some students, but overall the story kept me interested. I would recommend it to my students.

Lisa said...

This book was very difficult for me to get into. I picked it up on several occassions and had trouble with the whole idea of superheroes and Thom being a star basketball player whose father was ashamed of him because he was gay. Who cares?? I see Maria's point and liked her take on bringing together two stereotypical opposites-a gay superhero. I can't pinpoint the exact reason but I really couldn't make a connection and keep the book in my hands for any length of time. Even after discussions with Maria and Dawn!!