Irony, silliness, and the deepest questions of the human soul blend together delightfully in this funny, original novel by Norma Howe. The day David Schumacher turns 16, he decides to ease the pain of his father's death by legally changing his name to "Blue Avenger," after a comic book hero he created when he was 13. Armed with his new nom de plume, David hopes to abolish handguns, win the love of Omaha Nebraska Brown (the new girl at school), and create the first guaranteed weepless lemon meringue pie. He also wouldn't mind discovering the answer to the mystery of all mysteries: "Are we truly the masters of our fate or merely actors on a stage, playing our parts in a predetermined cosmic drama over which we have no control?" Through a crazy course of coincidences (or perhaps predestined circumstances) Blue Avenger ends up accomplishing almost all of the monumental tasks he has set for himself. Yet he never quite answers that question of free will, a conundrum that Howe leaves the reader to wrestle with until the very last page. The text is peppered with "facts," such as the detailed death of a particular sow bug and the prediction of an earthquake in a certain California subdivision, which seemingly have no bearing on the story. But Howe ties all of these factoids and statistics together in the finale with a flourish reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Newbery award-winning Holes
. Teens who enjoyed the mental jigsaw puzzles in Sachar's excellent novel will no doubt also dig The Adventures of Blue Avenger
. (Ages 12 to 15) --Jennifer Hubert
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From Publishers Weekly
David Bruce Schumacher has been drawing comic books featuring a superhero for three years, but on his 16th birthday he decides that it's high time that someone actually do something about the world's problems. Accordingly, he dons his late father's fishing vest, puts a towel on his head, ? la Lawrence of Arabia, and renames himself Blue Avenger after his creation ("The" is a lousy first name, he decides). Almost instantly the skinny redhead becomes a hero, first by saving the high school principal from killer bees, then by secretly arranging treatment for an acne-ravaged friend and ultimately effecting an end to handgun violence in Oakland, Calif.Amaybe even the entire U.S. In this canny and sophisticated fable, Howe (The Game of Life) interpolates her loopy plot with serious discussions of philosophy, teen romance, a recipe for "weepless" lemon meringue pie and finely honed characterizations. Especially endearing are the hero and Omaha Nebraska Brown, the feisty gal he's drawn to by his own free willAor is it determinism? Throughout, Howe edgily challenges the reader to decide whether the events related therein (allegedly with the help of an extraterrestrial) are due to chance or fate. The story's teasingly open ending will inspire delighted conjecture. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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