Published by Flux on January 8, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Implied sexual situations
Reviewed by: Megan
Ever since becoming an IWP—Individual with Powers—Marvin Maywood has dreamed of joining the Core, a group of gifted heroes who save lives and stop crimes. But because he's a homeless teenager who is forbidden to use his amazing powers, wanting and achieving that dream are two very separate things.
But when Marvin saves a family from dangerous hoodlums with his incredible strength and speed, his chance to try out for the Core comes at last. The opportunity seems like a dream come true—until he realizes that the idyllic hero life he imagined is just a mask for the corrupt reality. And when a beloved hero is murdered, Marvin is suspected of being the villain behind the crime.
Back in the day, superheroes could just be super. Now stories about people with powers all struggle to answer the same question: how would a group of super beings get by in this modern world of 24-hour news networks and jaded capitalism? Christopher E. Long attempts to answer this question in his debut young adult novel, HERO WORSHIP.
A veteran of the world of comic books, Long has no trouble putting his own twist on the superpowered residents of the fictional Loganstin, and HERO WORSHIP is full of great ideas. Unfortunately, the YA novel reads like a script for a comic, which prevents me from really sinking into the story. The use of present tense, in particular, keeps me at arms-length, jarring me out of the narrative during important moments. Present tense is so rarely worth the trouble in fiction, and has a tendency to turn prose into directions. This works when Long tells the reader what he or she is seeing, which is why scenes at Midtown Café, Eliza’s hideaway, and Marvin’s overpass-underground apartment are vivid and easy to picture. But without an artist to interpret the words, using the same technique to tell the reader what the characters are thinking and feeling is much less successful.
It feels particularly awkward every time a character comes to a stop in the middle of a scene to reveal a significant chunk of backstory. This gives me the impression that Long’s history in comics has left him uncertain as to whether or not his audience (particularly a young audience) will pick up on subtleties.
Some of the ideas put forward in HERO WORSHIP – such as the corruption of the Core and the systems in place to control the IWP, from media relations to the Clean Powers Act - are really intriguing, and I want to know more about them, but I don’t want a Wikipedia article. I want to explore them along with the characters, especially Marvin’s roommate Kent, whose ability to reshape his body is as fascinating as it is disgusting. Who doesn’t love a character who sleeps in a chest after turning into a gelatinous puddle at the end of each day?Series Titles: