Jan 9, 2009

Hero by Perry Moore

Hero is about Thom Creed, a teenage superhero in training with a lot on his plate. Thom’s father, Hal, used to be a famous superhero himself, until a horrible accident, which we are only told about in detail later in the book, put an end to his career and caused him to loose one of his hands. Not only that, but he went from being revered to being scorned. Thom had to deal with the way his dad was treated all his life, and now he fears he’s going to have to deal with the same himself. You see, Thom’s superpowers are not his only secret. There’s also the fact that he’s gay, and hiding it is becoming harder and harder.

Perry Moore decided to write Hero because he didn’t like the way gay characters were treated in superhero comics. You can read about it in more detail here. Basically, he wanted to write a superhero story in which a gay character was portrayed positively and was defined by more than their sexual orientation, and I think he definitely succeeded. And if you’re worried that a book with a specific agenda, even an agenda as awesome as this, will hit you over the head with it repeatedly, fear not. Hero is a good story will fully believable characters, and that’s what makes it work so well.

Thom’s sexual orientation, the prejudice he has to deal with, his fear, and his feelings for another character are very much a part of the story, but they aren’t this one defining thing around which everything else revolves. Basically, Thom is portrayed as what he is: a teenage boy whose life has several dimensions. So Hero is about many things: about growing up, about coming to terms with who you are, about love, about making friends, about being vulnerable and taking risks, about father and son relationships, and of course, about superheroes.

There is a (spoilers-free) quote at the end of the book that sums up the process Thom goes through very well:
But everything had changed, and I was becoming more and more of who I really was, and less of this person I had thought I wanted to be.
Also, I loved the way Thom’s relationship with his father was portrayed. It was just so…real, and so not simplistic. There are times when you want to shake them both for being so blind and so unfair to the other, but then that’s how things often go. There are so many misunderstandings and silences, but also so many tender moments, so many scenes in which they truly make an effort to communicate even though they have to deal with a hundred difficult and conflicting emotions. And all along you can tell they truly do care about each other.

Hero was a joy to read. The story itself is a lot of fun. There’s action and adventure and mystery and twists and turns, one of which I saw coming and the other not at all. There are also lots of references to the world of superhero comics, most of which were no doubt wasted on me because I’m not at all well-read in the genre.

Perry Moore’s intentions make it clear that he also wanted this book to be a comment on superhero stories, and I think the book is successfully in several ways. when it comes to that. But I really should shut up here, because I only have a vague idea of what I’m talking about. I’ll just say that I loved the fact that the characters were all human, that they all had their own intentions and motivations, and that things weren’t black and white.

There were two scenes in the book that bothered me, though, but unfortunately I can’t talk about them in detail without major spoilers. They didn’t keep me from loving the book, but if I did ratings they would probably cost it at least 0.5.

A few favourite passages:
I looked over to him, a little boy just wanting his dad to look back on him with approval. I wanted him to make some joke about what a loser that kid was, about how I’d really kicked ass tonight, about how he’d never seen a high score like that. I wanted him to muss my hair and take me home and pop some popcorn so we could stay up late and watch Saturday Night Live. I wanted him to tell me everything would be okay.
(Remembering now how this bit ties in with another one later in the book kind of makes me want to cry.)
I still didn’t know what she was talking about, but I definitely knew I didn’t like the way she implied that sucking and blowing were things I’d know more about than anyone else.

“I’m not talking about that. That’s not a choice. Don’t listen to the bigots or the zealots; you like what you like. Don’t let that distract you.” Ruth handed me a moist towelette for my fingers.
I couldn’t believe someone was actually talking about this with me. I’d never told anyone about my feelings before, and apparently she didn’t need me to tell her now. I always thought somehow it would be more cataclysmic when someone finally called me out for liking guys, where I’d have to make some kind of epic confession. She glossed right on past it, grabbed another drumstick, and took a bite.

Other Blog Reviews:

Bottle of Shine
Tower of Books
Rat's Reading

(Let me know if I missed yours.)


  1. I'm glad Moore succeeded. It's a good thing that he was trying to do. I might look into this book.

  2. Wow I think this is a book that me and the hubs and kids would all enjoy. Great review!

    And I also wanted to let you know I've given you an award on my blog :)

  3. Amanda, do! I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

    Joanne: I hope you all do enjoy it. And thank you so much! I will be catching up with everyone soon.

  4. Sounds like a good addition to the superhero genre.

  5. I noticed this one, it looked fun but I had no idea it was about a gay superhero. Another one for the list!

  6. I think this is one I might enjoy so have added it to my list too.

  7. Already skipped over and added it to the wish list. And I can't even blame you...you did warn me, after all. :)

    Seriously, this sounds so good! Like it's got some good stuff to say, and yet is really fun, too. I have to admit that a lot of the superhero commentary will be lost on me as well. Not terribly versed in that area. Super Friends was my favorite cartoon as a kid, but I'm quite sure that doesn't count. ;)

    And I love, love, love that first quote you posted--"But everything had changed, and I was becoming more and more of who I really was, and less of this person I had thought I wanted to be." I think that continues to happen to me each and every day.

  8. I haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds exactly like my kind of book! Adding it into my 'to-buy' list...

  9. Lenore, it is. It does interesting things with it.

    Valentina, I really think you'd like it!

    Cath and Marineko, I hope you both read it!

    Debi: I warned you indeed :P You'd enjoy it for sure. Some of the superhero references were actually obvious - the proof is in the fact that I picked them up :P

  10. Sounds like an interesting read on several levels, and that is the best kind!

  11. glad to see you back nymeth :)
    Hero sounds great, nice review.
    I like those passages.

  12. I have never heard of this author, so I am jotting it down right now.

    I hope your break was productif and you did get to do what you wanted, I am happy to see you back aspecially since I was gone for a whole month.

    I wish you a nice week-end Ana :))

  13. wow! this sounds really good.

    and also very important. i agree with the author's issues with how gay people are represented in comics. i love comics but they're still quite bad with the way they treat anyone who's remotely in the minority.

  14. This does sound good! I'll have to have my husband look for it the next time he makes a trip to his comic bookstore. Thanks for the recommendation.

  15. This book sounds interesting to me! I might have overlooked this book under normal circumstances if not of your great review, Nymeth!

    BTW, I've passed you an award! :)

  16. I'm not too big a fan of comics, but maybe, just maybe, I'd give this a try... :)

  17. Jenclair, indeed it is!

    Naida: I'm back part-time :P This week will probably be busy still, but I managed to write posts over the weekend to post throughout the week, which makes me happy.

    Madeleine: Finals are still not over (they will be at the end of this week), but the worse is over so I can post/comment some again. I missed you during that month!

    JP: As you know I'm not very well-read in superhero comics, but that list Moore compiled is very telling. I have hopes that those things are starting to change, though.

    Literary Feline: You're welcome! I hope you and your husband enjoy it.

    Melody: Thanks :D

    Alice: I think this is a novel that even those who aren't normally readers of superhero comics (like me :P) can definitely enjoy.

  18. I've seen this around a lot, but never knew exactlyy what it was all about, besides the basics. it sounds great though. i'd love to read it at some point!


  19. >I think this is a novel that even those who aren't normally readers of superhero comics (like me :P) can definitely enjoy.

    Exactly what I was thinking. I'm definitely adding this to my list. Thanks for the review!

  20. Sounds like a great read! I'm not particularly well-versed in my comic books, either, although if my boyfriend had his way, I'm sure he'd change that! Perhaps I'll pass this book his way - thanks for a great reccommendation!

  21. I'd like Jennifer Estep to add a little depth to her superhero characters like this does.

  22. Lauren: I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

    Ali: You're welcome! Enjoy it!

    Chelsea: it's definitely still enjoyable even if you don't know that much about comics. What I know from movies, tv and pop culture in general was enough.

    Ladytink: Character depth is definitely a must for me.

  23. Sounds like a really interesting book--especially the fact that Thom is gay, something that doesn't really fit with the "hero" stereotype. Does Perry Moore just sound familiar because I'm staring at my Alan Moore "Watchmen" book or has he written something else?

  24. Trish: I think this is his first novel, so it's probably Alan's fault :P

  25. Hi, everyone!
    Thank you for a wonderful review--have to say I love this site and all the comments! Please feel free to write to me with your thoughts about the book. I enjoy taking in all the feedback as I plot the sequels. Please write to me at perrymoorestories.com

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks again for saying all those wonderful things. Books are a really tough business. Especially when you try to do something a little on the pioneering side with them. (I don't think anyone would have published this book ten years ago!)

    All my best,

    Perry Moore
    author of HERO

  26. Perry Moore: Thank you for stopping by! And most of all, thank you for the book. I'm glad the publishing world changed enough to allow a book like this to see the light of day. I very much look forward to your next one!


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