Sunday, September 4, 2016


by John David Anderson
Recommended Ages: 13+

Drew Bean, 13, has a rare condition that heightens his senses, especially of sight, hearing, and smell. It could make it hard for him to cope with ordinary life. But thanks to a club called H.E.R.O. - with the slogan "keeping trash off the streets" - Bean has a secret identity as a middle-school-aged superhero sidekick, apprenticed to one of the superest Supers ever: the Titan. While the club pretends to be about fighting litter and saving the environment, it's really about learning to control strange powers, protecting the innocent, and taking a stand for goodness and light. It gives Drew a secret identity of his own (even if one with lame powers and little to no value in combat). It almost gives Drew a sense of purpose. It totally would, if the the Titan would have anything to do with him. But Drew's other secret is that his Super is sad lump on a bar stool, having given up on the hero scene and trying to drown his sense of failure.

Now would be a good time for the Titan to come out of his slump, though. Every week seems to find Drew in more danger than the last. It's bad enough when the Titan can't be bothered to show up when a wacko in a bee costume and his brainwashed drones capture Drew and his best friend Jenna, suspending them over a swimming pool full of acid, and only Jenna's Super - a sword-whirling fox called, er, the Fox - shows up to save them. But when one of Justicia's most notorious criminal gangs breaks out of prison and starts a new crime wave headed toward the city, one would really hope the hero who put them away six years ago would come out of retirement. Soon all the city's Supers except the Fox have been kidnapped, H.E.R.O. has been suspended, and attempts have been made on the lives of Drew and his friends, to say nothing of the mayor. Plus, Drew starts to suspect a traitor has been leading the villains to the Supers' secret lairs, and his own Super - for what he's worth - will be the next target.

It's time for some sidekicks to hero up. And though his friends' skills include martial arts, passing through walls, turning into solid granite, and shooting bolts of electricity, their leader will be the Sensationalist - yeah, that's Drew. Barely teenaged, too-young-to-drive Drew, who has only his nose for trouble to guide him, and who is confused enough as it is about girls, friendship, math class, the sidekick Code, and how to keep his parents oblivious to his Super issues. Happy is the reader who will share his adventure, full of thrilling action, self-deprecating humor, heartache, and bittersweet romance.

This consistently funny, touching, and exciting book comes from the Indianapolis-based author of Standard Hero Behavior, which I have read, and Minion, which I plan to read soon. His other books include The Dungeoneers, Insert Coin to Continue, and Ms. Bixby's Last Day.

No comments: