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Hero Paperback – July 12, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6-10–In a major departure from his YA sports fiction, the popular Lupica opts for a high-concept, high-octane action thriller. When the father he idolizes dies in a covert government operation, 14-year-old Billy Harriman is determined to find out who killed him, and why. In the course of his investigation he discovers that his father had superpowers, and that he has inherited them. Guided by a mysterious older man who identifies himself as Mr. Herbert, and supported by his wise and sassy girlfriend Kate, Billy begins to come to terms with his destiny. As his socially prominent mother assumes a leading role in the campaign of the presidential candidate his father had backed, Billy finds himself at odds with his father's old friend (and mother's current advisor). The teen eventually becomes convinced that Uncle John is allied with the forces responsible for his father's death. After he uses his superpowers to thwart an assassination attempt on the candidate, he confronts Uncle John, who remains evasive about his involvement with the shadowy organization that seems to have targeted Billy and his family. With all the major issues unresolved at the novel's end, the stage is set for a sequel to what looks like a surefire hit.–Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Lupica, best known for his popular sports novels for youth, explores new territory in this title, which begins with a highly skilled American agent’s first-person account of a dangerous solo mission in the Balkans. By the second chapter, though, readers learn that the agent died during his mission, and the story is picked up by a new narrator, who shifts the telling to third person and the focus to the agent’s son, Billy. After learning that he is being pursued by shadowy bad guys, Billy is ambushed in New York’s Central Park. Luckily, though, he has recently discovered that he possesses supernatural powers, and he overcomes his attackers. Lupica effectively unfolds this high-adventure story, which sends Billy on a classic hero’s journey with two possible guides, one of whom turns out to be treacherous. At the end, Lupica implies that it’s going to take more than one book to tell Billy’s story, which should please the inevitable new fans this effort will attract. Pair this with William Boniface’s The Hero Revealed (2006). Grades 6-9. --Todd Morning --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Having read, and enjoyed immensely, Michael Korda's book, Another Life, I eagerly purchased Hero in anticipation of a fascinating biography. The exquisite design of the book added to my expectations. But I was shocked to discover, and there is no other way to put it, that the writing is simply awful. From the very beginning, sentences go on for eight or nine lines with mid-sentence digressions that make any logical progression of thought incomprehensible.
Perhaps history and biography are not Mr. Korda's strength, but smoothe and fluid writing should be. I am left to wonder if any of the luminaries praising the book on the back cover had actually read it. A great subject, poorly, poorly witten.
Lawrence was very much a hero, as well as many other things. He was a military genius on a level with Napoleon. He also possessed a genius for guerilla warfare and his techniques are taught at West Point as we speak. Possessing a talent for writing, his Seven Pillars of Wisdom is considered a literary masterpiece. His direct actions changed the entire map of the Middle East, and the inability of politicians to adjust to the realities of this region that Lawrence saw so vividly have led to the chaos that we see in the Middle East today.
Sheikh Hamoud had it right when he wrote so many years ago of Lawrence:
My heart was iron, but his was steel
If you love great, gifted, writing on an immense topic describing a man that truly impacted and changed the world that he saw, than Michael Korda's biography of Lawrence of Arabia is for you. This is a 700 page narrative before footnotes and biography. The quality of the paper used in the book is fabulous, and this is due to Korda's lifetime in the publishing industry. The selection of the font and the feel of the book left nothing to chance. Korda thought through every aspect of this project and brought it off with flair, and panache.
He is a master storyteller and he has demonstrated considerable scholarship in creating this page turner which is so sweeping in scope covering one of the giants of the 20th century. Here are just a few of the things you will learn about Lawrence of Arabia:
* In his early 30's he translated Homer's The Odyssey which then became accepted as the classic account of Homer's work.
* Why King George on Lawrence's untimely death in 1935 said his name will live in history?
* He possessed a dazzling display of knowledge, almost Einstein like in the topics he could converse in. Lawrence never did anything halfway. If he was in, he was in all the way.
* As a young man, an illegitimate son, along with 4 other brothers, he managed to do amazing things at Oxford. He studied and more importantly absorbed the works of every great military tactician including Admiral Mahan, and Creasy's 15 Decisive Battles of the World. Lawrence's own thesis, The Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture was recognized as an act of genius when he presented it.
* Liddell Hart considered to be one of the truly eminent military writers of the 20th century compared Lawrence to Napoleon, and used the term Napoleon coined "le coup doeil de genie" which means quick glance of genius. What this describes is that Lawrence had the scarce ability to look at a map (remember he was also a master mapmaker) and immediately know where to attack based on a unique ability in a glance to know intuitively how to attack. This is still studied at West Point, and is very rare in generals throughout history.
* If you want to know the depth of his influence on all who came after him, than consider this. Mao Zedong led a revolution in China based on his writings and theories. Ho Chi Minh forced the United States out of Viet Nam based on Lawrence's theories of guerilla war. I haven't even mentioned Castro and Che in Cuba using Lawrence as a blueprint for winning in Cuba. Lawrence is the original creator of the road side bomb we now see in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knew how to strike light, and disappear into the night. The term turn weakness into strength is his.
* The story of the making of the David Lean movie, Lawrence of Arabia which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and won 7 is told here in a beautiful fashion. Only Sam Spiegel, the producer at Columbia Pictures could have gotten this movie done. You will learn how the part was first offered to Leslie Howard, Lawrence Olivier, and then Albert Finney, until settling on newcomer Peter O'Toole.
In conclusion, if you love history and the grand expanse of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things then you are going to love this book. Lawrence was Hollywood handsome with a magnetic personality and charisma to match. His influence directly led to the creation of the modern Jordan, and the UAR (United Arab Republic). Iraq and Syria now owe their modern boundaries to Lawrence. Since the 1960's England has opened up its secret historical files on Lawrence. We now know that all the wild stories about Lawrence are true. It actually comes down to this. Lawrence did what he said he did, and even downplayed his own role in the affairs of which we know about.
I promise you that if you begin reading this book, you will not put it down, and you will be transfixed by what a gifted writer like Korda can do with a legendary impactful figure like Lawrence of Arabia. Thank you for reading this review.
Richard C. Stoyeck
Billy's dad is some sort of top secret agent for the government and is killed in the line of duty. Billy believes that his dad's death wasn't an accident (as stated) and is determined to prove this. During his investigation Billy finds himself developing super powers. He realizes that his dad was part of a world that has remained a secret to him. With his dad gone it may be up to Billy to save the world.
I am trying to think if there is anything I liked about his book. I guess it has super heroes in it; even if they were lame. Also it was a pretty short book and was over quickly.
As for what I didn't like...well let's start with the basics and work from there. The dialogue was stilted and fake sounding, not to mention it was written using the vocabulary of a young child. I understand it was a children's book; but it is pretty dumbed down even for that. The plot was transparent and painfully simple. The book wasn't engaging and the characters were paper thin and cliched.
There are a ton of sports references throughout this book, lots of name throwing. It confused me at first until I found out Lupica used to be a sports commentator and that his previous novels were about sports. I personally don't really follow many sports and found the constant references irritating. Also there are a lot of politics in here. Billy's mom is big into supporting political parties. I am also not a bit politics fan, so I found the inclusion of all of this to be boring and irritating. If you like sports and politics this may be the book for you.
Now let's move on to the superhero aspect of the novel. Billy gains his powers inconsistently and they change with no rhyme or reason...also they really aren't all that super. He can run faster, jump higher, heal faster...yawn. There is nothing creative here. Billy's enemies are just as boring and predictable. There just isn't anything fantastic here or anything interesting. Seriously my three year old son comes up with more creative and interesting super hero scenarios than those that are explored in this book.
Overall this book was poorly written, had an over-simplified plot, was boring, and not at all fantastical. It would be more for fans of sports and simplistic politics. Honestly I am not sure what group the author is aiming at with this novel. There isn't enough action and adventure to interest me (an adult female) and I can't imagine any young adult boys finding this much more interesting. Technically the writing was correct and there weren't a lot of spelling errors or anything so that's why it gets two stars versus one.