Being a superhero isn’t easy, especially when you also have homework, college applications, and parents who worry when you are out past curfew.
In Liberty City, superheroing is a paid gig, and Javier, an 18-year-old Hispanic boy, is a nerdy high school senior by day and Blue Spark, one of the Legion’s Junior Heroes by night. In this novel, Pendragon crafts a winning tale of a teenager striving to come to terms with himself while keeping his city safe from the evil Organization, hanging with his best friend, and crushing on Rick, his seemingly perfect rugby player boyfriend. A Spanish immigrant whose family relocated to America when he was 5, Javi’s story is suitably harsher than the typical angst-ridden teen narrative. His struggle to learn English and the bullying he endures from classmates due to his lower socio-economic status illustrate the darker aspects of achieving the American dream, from which even superpowers cannot insulate him. This narrative packs a lot into its pages, seamlessly integrating an underdog superhero tale with a debate about the use of power and life’s lack of moral certainty. Best of all, it depicts a high school in which sex and sexuality are addressed matter-of-factly and joked about in an authentically teenage fashion.
Readers will find themselves rooting for this canny hero to get the guy and save the day. (Fantasy. 14-18)