by Perry Moore
Hyperion Book, 2007
Review by Shea Hunter on May 12th 2009
Hero could be the story of any young man coming to terms with his sexuality, except that this young man has superpowers and must discover who is murdering other heroes. This is the story of basketball star Thom Creed who after being forcibly outed to his peers and family, must deal not only with homophobic sentiments but also coming to terms with his superpowers in a home where they are disparaged. Thom's father, Hal, was a hero without superpowers but for a reason not discovered until later was disgraced after he saved the world; Thom also perceives his father as rather staunchly anti-homosexual.
Thom's journey to accept his sexuality is wrapped up in his dealings within the organization of crime fighting superheroes, which he joins after he attempts to runaway from home. Although Thom joins The League, the upper echelons are not impressed with him, and he is regulated to lower team. It is his team and others close to Thom that ultimately help him come to terms with himself. The plot of Hero thickens with the introduction of a heinous crime--someone is murdering superheroes.
With the help of his partners, an aging, brazen seer, a prickly spitfire, and a sickly worrier, Thom must solve the mystery of the murdered superheroes to redeem not only himself but also his father and all superheroes. Although the premise and plot of the novel are unique and exciting, the character development and writing are not as creative and well done as the summary promises. In places, Thom's story takes second place to a secondary character's narrative. In addition, other plot elements feel contrived and slapped in, as with the scene of Thom seeing his mother for the first time in years. Even through these various problems, Hero is still a good novel more than worthy of being read by its intended audience.
Hero draws on Moore's own experiences as a gay youth, and his dissatisfaction with the way hero comics portray homosexual characters. For this work celebrating gay youth, Moore won the Lambda literary award in 2007. Hero blends together the classic coming of age story with the problems facing gay youth and sets it in a fantasy universe full of superheroes. In addition, it is the first young adult novel to feature a gay protagonist to delve into this fantasy-hero realm, and older teenagers who are fans of this genre should really enjoy Hero. I know I did.
© 2009 Shea Hunter
Shea Hunter is a recent graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She majored in Political Science and minored in psychology, and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in teaching social studies. She lives in Decatur with her best friend and her two cats.