What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your nights flying to get away fromDull Boy by Sarah Cross
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What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your nights flying to get away from it all? If you’re fifteen-year-old Avery Pirzwick, you keep that information to yourself. When you’re a former jock turned freak, you can’t afford to let the secret slip.
But then Avery makes some friends who are as extraordinary as he is. He realizes they’re more than just freaks—together, maybe they have a chance to be heroes. First, though, they have to decide whether to trust the mysterious Cherchette, a powerful wouldbe mentor whose remarkable generosity may come at a terrible price.
I have to admit, I’m a geek, so when I first saw this book I had an inkling I would like it. Superheroes, in any context or medium, usually are a safe bet with me. I was a comic fiend through my middle and high school years, and even though I spend WAY less on them now-a-days it doesn’t mean I’m any less drawn to them. The fact that comics have become so mainstream is a good thing in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love every movie being made – and some just make me sad, but when they nail it with the likes of Dark Knight, Ironman, and the Watchmen, I get just as excited as my twelve year self did while reading X-men the day it hit the newsstand. So, in short, I like superhero-ish things. Movies. Comics. Graphic novels. And now, novels.
But let me get back to Dull Boy and my reason for writing this review. Dull Boy joins the burgeoning new sub-genre within sci-fi/fantasy of the sueprhero novel. Yeah, graphic novels have been around for a couple decades now, and novelizations of some comics and movies have been done before, but books like the Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem or Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman have been few and far between. In a sense, I think, it’s a challenge for these authors to attempt to write a superhero book without that visual component we’ve associated with the genre for so long. Cartoons, comics, movies have always drawn the characters and action for us, so when authors like Cross, Grossman, or Lethem put their work out there, they’re doing it with a handicap, I think.
Cross doesn’t let us down, though. Her book is one part teen angst and three parts hero action. Her team of young heroes are well written and likeable. She captures the awkwardness of adolescence nicely while adding the extra burden of superpower-freakishness believably and well. Think Catcher in the Rye meets the Teen Titans or New Mutants.
It is quick and fast paced, and captures the traditions and charisma of comics from a decade or two ago. If you like the Incredibles or even Dr. Horrible and His Sing Along Blog, I think you’ll find yourself enjoying Dull Boy.
The only thing I can find fault with, and it’s by no means a deal breaker, is the title. I just don’t think it captures the book, characters, or story well. I think, and forigve me for this, it’s dull.
The story wraps up well, and does open itself up for a sequel, which I hope is forthcoming shortly. I enjoyed this novel very much and think if you’re a fan of comics or the superhero genre you’ll like this book. ...more