CHALLENGE(S): GLBT Challenge (mini)
Finished 13 April 2010
The moment I saw the synopsis for this novel I was pretty much hooked. As you all know, I’m more than a little addicted to graphic novels, particularly ones involving superheroes, so a novel about a gay superhero was just like – I have to read this! Now! And fortunately there was a copy in at the library, so I immediately went in and got it.
Thom Creed, the main character, has a number of secrets. Firstly, he has superpowers. Sort of. And secondly, he’s gay. He can’t tell anyone about either of these things – particularly not his father, a former legend who was rejected by the League of Heroes after a terrible tragedy. But when the League offers him a place on one of their teams, Thom faces a decision that will ultimately reshape his entire life and his opinion of himself into the bargain.
Unfortunately, while the premise is awesome, the execution falls far short of what one might desire. I will say that I enjoyed the book, more or less, mostly because the main character has a strong voice and very much engaged my sympathy. Plus I’m a sucker for superhero stories. However. There were several things that bothered me intensely about the novel from the beginning.
The writing itself was unappealing and choppy: I don’t expect much from YA novels these days but coherence is definitely top of the list, and I felt that Moore’s writing was a bit schizophrenic – it kept jumping from topic to topic without clear reason to, and he relied far too much on flashbacks (and telling, rather than showing) to get the back story across. I think one of the most common phrases in the whole novel was “I remember this one time…” I found it hard to keep my attention on what was actually happening because there seemed to be no rational thread to tie things together, and descriptions of any kind were thin on the ground, making it nearly impossible to visualise what was going on. I’m not asking for huge chunks of narration dedicated to their clothing or anything, but a little bit of scene setting goes a long way.
Another thing that bothered me was the misogyny. I’m prepared to admit that this may be me reading too much into a few throw-away one-liners, but every few chapters something would crop up in the narration that just plain made me uncomfortable. Granted, I suppose I’m not exactly the target audience and perhaps they were an attempt at humour that I just didn’t get, not being of the male persuasion, but I have to say for the most part I felt they were more spiteful or dismissive than funny. Not to mention every female character seemed to have something massively wrong with her personality, with the possible exception of Ruth, who (surprise) gets killed well before the climactic battle. As I said, perhaps my sexism-sensors are set on high at the moment, but it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth on that score.
Ultimately, I found it difficult to believe in the world Moore postulated, and the fact that many of the heroes were DC rip-offs didn’t help. The romance between Thom and the Dark Hero was well done, though, I will say. I may end up reading the other books in the series when they’re released, if only to see if things improve, because the idea really is epic. I just wish a better author had got hold of it first.