Ryan Mishap's Reviews > Hero-Type

Hero-Type by Barry Lyga
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Jul 26, 2010

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Kevin, a smart high school kid with C-grades and a group of friends called The Fool's Council, saves another student from a serial killer.
All of a sudden he's a hero and a nondescript kid nobody paid attention to is getting high fives in the hall and mayoral speeches. Oh, but if they all knew why he was there to save Leah that day--Leah, the object of his obsession....He was following her and videotaping her--I don't think it is a spoiler to give that away as it is obvious from the get-go. It isn't prurient taping, but stalker behavior anyway. A lot of the first part of the book deals with thee tension between the outward hero aspect and the inward self-loathing and I'm just a kid. We also learn that he lives alone with his Dad after his mom took his little brother and moved to California where she met and fell in love with a woman. Kevin's dad is a veteran and has little personality flare-ups.

As you can tell, a lot is going on in this book, but we haven't even got to the part where the Mayor, owner of a car lot, gets Kevin a car. Before Kevin drives off the lot, the Mayor slaps some yellow ribbon and support the troops magnets on the car. Kevin doesn't care, he just went from a broke loser to a guy with a car and reward money coming. When he gets home, his dad makes him remove the magnets--and a school reporter catches it on film as Kevin throws them in the trash. From hero to traitor that fast.

The Publisher's Weekly reviewer said the novel turns didactic here--but critics only say that when they disagree with the politics or sentiments. I'll say that we get to watch Kevin learn about how free speech works in theory, practice, and in its complexity. Once the kids start treating him like shit, Kevin doesn't back down or blame his dad, but starts researching the Pledge of Allegiance and wondering what unquestioning support of government means.

The resolution of the Leah story-line was less than needed, but what Kevin learns from this and from the only girl in The Council of Fools, Fam, is that women are people--don't treat them with disrespect but, equally important, don't put them on pedestals as objects of desire. That's probably the most important lesson in the novel for young men to take away.

So, this isn't the greatest novel of all time or anything, but it is willing to take on some issues and I would give this book to any adolescents I knew.
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