on September 16, 2007
I bought this book with the thought that I might use it during a social justice unit in my middle school English class. While the book proved to be a little too mature for my students (strong language, some pretty explicit sexual remarks), it would be excellent for a high school humanities or senior English class. The book dives into themes that are rarely explored in children's literature. By paralleling the protagonist's struggle with his own sexual orientation with the discovery that he possesses superhuman powers, the reader starts to connect the different ways in which people are outcast in our own, non-comic book society. I strongly recommend this book to anybody, be they a teacher, a student, or just a regular reader who wants to expand their understanding about tolerance and coming of age.
on September 6, 2007
I bought this book after reading it's review in People magazine for my daughter and I to read...she was busy rereading a Harry Potter book, so I decided to read it first. GOOD THING! This book is much more appropriate for LATE teen and adult readers. It is a beautifully powerful book about the strains of growing up different, and really not feeling accepted. Set in a familiar world of comic book reality, it's points are not missed and you really want to hold the main character as he proceeds through this minefield of life as he makes his way in very extreme conditions. Even when the scenerios become outlandish, this book captivates you...I didn't want to put it down. I would caution that you may not like this book if you are conservative in your views of family and sexual relationships, but this book might help you to open your mind a bit if you are!
on October 13, 2007
I went on a reading binge, and struck gold with "Hero". This book is incredibly easy to fall into. The voice of the main character, Thom, has clarity and depth - in some ways he's your typical budding super hero teen, easy to relate to and connect with.
The story itself is over 400 pages but is so smooth that I read it in one sitting - the pace was steady and between the family relationships, the super powers, the new teammates and situations, there wasn't a single dull moment. It was easy to see this transferred into a movie or graphic novel, but as a story, it really allowed you to just immerse yourself in Thom's world.
The plot lines are tied up and the relationships settled by the novel's conclusion, but the style is such that when you close the book, you can't help hoping for a sequel, 'cause it's just that good.
If you enjoy reading slash fiction and/or fanfiction, comics books or heck just enjoy a good superhero romp, this book might just click perfectly with you. Do give it a try.
on October 17, 2007
Good genre fiction is able to transcend its genre and help its readers resolve real life conflicts. I think of Star Wars telling the story of how a group of self-involved young adults finds a sense of purpose in the world at large and fights to save the Empire all against the backdrop of star fighters and space stations. Buffy the Vampire Slayer which carefully employs the horror and fantasy genre to weave a coming of age story to which any teenage girl could relate, complete with the fated Romeo and Juliet romance between a vampire slayer and a vampire. And now, we have Perry Moore's Hero, a story which juxtaposes our modern world with a world of superheroes with superpowers - a world where, much like our world, young gay men must surmount seemingly impenetrable obstacles to find peace within themselves.
Hero tells the story of Thom Creed, son of a mother who has done a family vanishing act, and a valor-and-superhero-stripped father who is credited as the disgrace of the superhero Justice League. Thom is an average teen: he plays for his basketball team, has a crush on a local celebrity, does household chores, and has a hard time talking to his father. Although we know from the beginning that Thom is gay, it is never a driving force of the novel - a mistake so many glbt (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) genre writers fall into. Like anyone else, being gay is not the center of Thom's universe, but rather, it is merely an event mixed in with so many other events in Thom's ever-changing, ever-eventful life. It is for this reason that I could not put this book down for a minute - this book is real.
Developing superpowers for Thom is a familial taboo, so when Thom realizes he does have a power, he is afraid to tell his father. Paralleling this fear of exposure, Thom is simultaneously afraid to tell his father - or anyone - that he is attracted to men. Both his superpower and his sexuality afford Thom attentions he is not always excited to have. There is name-calling from his peers, disgust from his elders, and sometimes lateral effects on his family members. Thom's superpower makes a name for his superhero team, and Thom's sexuality eventually poses problems for them. In all events, however, Thom is true to himself and - like any good coming-of-age novel - Thom lands on his feet.
I read the brunt of this book in one day. With a packed schedule of things to do, I kept telling myself, "put it down and do some work," but in every instance I ignored my inner voice and turned another page. Although I rarely respond to books with a male protagonist, I found that, as a woman, I could really relate to Thom. His relationship with his family is real, swelling with hurt feelings, communication issues, and mixed emotions. His self-image is real, brimming with self-doubt and self-confidence all at once. And his conflict is real, to act or not to act? To tell or not to tell? Aren't these everyone's questions? Hero is a book for everyone - gay, straight, or otherwise.
on September 5, 2007
Once again, Perry Moore takes a subject with which not everyone may readily identify (first it was the making of the Narnia movie, and now its being a gay teen superhero), and makes all of his readers feel right at home in his world. This novel reads more like a conversation you are having with a good friend who is describing his real-life turmoil and triumphs (in that order) than a fantasy novel about superheros.
With his uncanny ability to include just enough detail to make supernatural events seem commonplace, Perry Moore makes you believe that anything is possible. He also makes a convincing case that self-doubt and inner conflicts can be overcome and turned into stepping stones on the path to greatness.
The unique and quirky characters are multi-dimensional and there is just the right mix of tension, humor, and action.
This book may not only lead to greater understanding of teen emotional issues and the inner struggles of people coming to terms with their sexuality, but may also save the lives of teens who would otherwise feel alone and ashamed. At the very least, this book can start meaningful conversations among people who would not typically discuss the very relevant issue of teens struggling with sexual identity issues.
This book is a ground-breaking literary contribution by one of the most talented new authors of our generation.
on September 15, 2007
Thom Creed is a very insecure teenage boy with a lot going against him. In a world were Superheros are the norm he has a father who has been outcast, a mother who has disappered and superpowers that keep showing up.
This is an entirely new take on the superhero theme with great results. I am not a child nine or up, I picked this book up while shopping with my own teenager and I loved it. I believe this is a book for everyone.
Hero is the ultimate in coming of age stories. The author never forgets the human parts of growing up different in a normal world and deftly spins in the "Hero" problems. Thom comes across the page very likable and very real. A hard thing to do in a novel with a fantasy spin to it.
I will be handing this book over to my teen-ager and probably to a couple of other people who I know would appreciate it. I hope this character shows up in more novels, everyone could use more lessons from this unique hero.
on March 25, 2008
A friend who was really into fantasy novels recommended this book to me. I hate fantasy novels but he kept pushing. Begrudgingly, I ordered this book and the day it arrived I had committed myself to reading the first chapter so that I could write it off as something I'm not interested in and that would be that.
What actually happened was that I read the first few pages then I was absolutely hooked. I don't have a lot of time for reading lately but I actually made time for this book and I was done with it in a little over a day because it was that captivating.
I guess my point is that this is a great book and the premise might cause the serious reader to not consider it. Don't judge this book by it's synopsis! It's so much more!
on September 14, 2007
I have been buying my books off of Amazon, through customer reviews (and my own healthy dose of curiosity) for a while now, and am now proud to say that this is the very first book that I am brimming with elation to give my very first review!
Indeed, I feel duty-bound to praise this book in its sheer excellence!
Wow, Perry Moore. Wow.
Thank you for finally creating the piece of fiction I had long to read when I was child. For years growing up, I have had to locate myself either through characters found in Marvel and DC comics, or via Disney heroines; only to dig up half-truths of myself. Finally, here, in your singular work, clear as day, bold and beautiful, is the whole Truth:
I am a Gay Hero.
On behalf of us all who wear the mask to protect the people, and protect our privacy, THANK YOU.
This will do much for many...
on September 21, 2009
"Thom Creed is a high school basketball star. His mother abandoned the family and his father is a former masked crimefighter who retired in disgrace following a national incident and now works as a lowly worker in a factory. Thom's own superpowers are beginning to manifest themselves, as is his homosexuality. But Thom must keep his powers a secret, for fear of further disgracing his father and risking his hometown's homophobic wrath.
But as Thom's sexuality becomes more troublesome, he decides to run away from home. He immediately becomes mixed up in a battle between some villains and The League, and does well enough to be invited to try out for the team. Thom is accepted as a trainee, and assigned to work with a group of other probationary heroes. The stress of keeping so many secrets from his father exacts a painful toll.
Soon, however, the world's superheroes begin dying under mysterious circumstances. In order to solve the mystery, Thom must reunite with his fellow outcast trainees and deal as well with society's prejudices when his secrets are revealed."
I won't lie, I was very reticient about reading this novel. More often than not, gay media (be it books, movies, music, etc.) plays to every derogatory stereotype there is and it induces far more homophobia in society than ultra-conservatives ever could.
Despite my trepidation, I still kept hearing a lot about this book and my curiosity got the better of me and this led to much research. In various interviews, author Perry Moore explained explained that part of his inspiration for writing Hero was because he wanted to portray gay characters (gay superheroes specifically) in a positive manner and debunk the offensive caricatures that inundate the media. The Chronicles of Narnia executive producer also wanted to show that despite the hardships that LGBTs face, being gay is not a tragedy. Moore has also campaigned to bring awareness to the bigotry LGBT characters face in comic books. Always eager to support a fellow minority who is striving to do positive works and defy convention, I decided to pick up a copy.
As a writer, a comic book junkie, and a double minority, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this novel. Moore gets it. He didn't write a gay story about a gay character for a gay audience like many writers do. He wrote a story about a character for a universal audience. A character who just happened to be gay. And that's why this story works. Any self-respecting minority will tell you that we're more than the sum of our parts. Our minority (be it race, gender, or orientation) contributes to our character but that isn't all there is to us. Moore gets this. For the most part, this story could've worked just as well if the character had been heterosexual. Gay or not, most audiences can either relate or sympathize with Thom whose story is based loosely on Moore's adolescent years. Just as Hal, is based loosely on Thom's father, a veteran who faced societal rebuke upon returning from Vietnam.
Thom is an affable protagonist. A star athlete, he's quirky and at times a spaz. Think Peter Parker with a hint of Connor Kent. The story's mythos is a blatant satire/parody/homage of both DC and Marvel Comics, much in the spirit of the film Sky High. While I personally would've enjoyed more development with said mythos, I get the intent behind it. It's a fun story that doesn't take itself too seriously. Ironically, one of the things that makes Hero successful is the light-hearted prose which is juxtaposed against the heavy social issues it addresses. We're talking everything from homophobia to divorce, healthcare, war, racism and poverty.
This coming of age tale is also candid and honest. One of my favorite scenes is when Hal nearly walks in on Thom who is masturbating to gay porn on the laptop in such a matter-of-fact manner. Because as a matter of fact, jerking off to porn is something teen boys tend to do. A LOT!
Moore does an excellent job fleshing out many of the characters who would've otherwise been one-dimensional. Ruth is an outright riot who steals every scene and following Thom, she's my favorite character in the novel. While Hero is certainly a stand-alone novel, there are a few loose ends which lends nicely to a sequel.
According to reports, sequels to the novel are planned and Moore has teamed up with comic books legend Stan Lee to do an adaptation for Showtime.
Having achieved the seemingly impossible in creating a compelling gay character (a superhero no less), Moore has become my personal superhero.
Hero is a conscious engaging dramedy and a fun read at that. I highly recommend it for comic book fans or fans of a very good story.
on September 24, 2007
I first heard about this book when I read a preview for it from Gaygamer.net. I thought that it was going to be a novel rife with the stereotypical gay teen, depressed about being alone, looking for the next way to, forgive my vulgarity, get off.
This novel blew me away. Perry Moore has created one of the best fiction novels I have ever read. The story centers around young Thom, a 17-year old boy. Thom has a double dose of a problem, his father is a disgraced superhero and not very gay-friendly. Thom reveals to use early on in the novel that he is indeed gay and is quickly developing superpowers. The book's main theme of coming out, acceptance & redemption is put together nicely.
I would whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who is willing to read an excellently well-written novel.