A sci-fi/fantasy series about a teenager with superpowers.
In Johnson’s debut, the first book in a projected series, Hamilton Dinger is a handsome and popular 16-year-old football star at Apollo Central High School in Ohio, tolerating school, enjoying hanging out with friends playing video games and basking in the adulation of his peers. He’s affable if a bit conceited (“My life had always been about me,” he reflects early on), but his life changes when a mysterious meteorite strikes town. It nearly kills him, and it leaves him hearing celestial music nobody else hears and dreaming about mysterious supernatural creatures. When one of those creatures—a deadly being named Maia—shows up in waking life and starts killing people, Hamilton suddenly finds himself caught between ancient, warring mystical beings. He meets Elysian, “a kind of lizard-snake or mutated eel,” who gruffly agrees to tutor him in his new reality. Elysian explains that there are two otherworldly realms vying for control of all time and space, but these worlds have shades of gray between them: “Light and dark are not natural enemies.” Hamilton learns that his destiny is to fight the Sinisters with his newfound powers. The news is not welcome; the teenager mainly wants to go to college, maybe get a law degree and become a government worker. Instead, he finds himself fighting the forces of evil in Apollo City as the superhero known as Wingdinger, although most of this first volume consists of flashbacks showing the hero’s origin. Johnson fills these chapters with the kind of zesty overwriting typical of current YA fiction, and the ordinary-teen stuff (homecoming games, school plays, dating jealousies) feels forced the longer it continues, despite supernatural beings popping up everywhere. But Hamilton’s inner progress toward heroism feels touchingly genuine, and there are plenty of good comic moments to keep the story moving. Percy Jackson fans will eagerly await the next volume in the series.
A fast-paced, effective teen-paranormal outing.