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Hero – by Mike Lupica

November 8, 2010

HeroIn the reading of this book, I have discovered some of the pitfalls of reading an Advance Reading Copy as opposed to waiting for the published version of a book. First of all, as the ARC has yet to go through the final editing stages, there may be errors that will be fixed before official publication and I have to struggle to keep these from influencing my opinion of the book. Second of all, sometimes more major changes are made, as with Hero, in which the main character’s name was changed from Billy to Zach. I have to wonder if my opinion of the character would have been different had his name been Zach in my copy of the book.

Zach Harriman begins to discover his own super-human abilities after his father is killed in a plane crash. While he struggles with the loss of his father and the sudden changes in himself, Zach is told by a mysterious stranger that he must prepare for the arrival of an evil force that only he can stop. He has to decide who to trust and how to deal with the darkness growing inside himself.

I have some difficulty categorizing this book, as far as genre. While the superhero story automatically tends toward science fiction, the word “magic” is used many times throughout the novel, and there is a sort of cosmic good vs. evil backdrop, which is more reminiscent of fantasy. That good/evil mythology, if you will, behind the story is one of the most interesting things about it. I think there’s a lot of potential there, and the book only brushes the surface. Similarly, there is a good vs. evil battle going on inside Zach himself, which the book only touches on briefly. Presumably, there will be sequels to deal with these issues, but it’s a shame that this book couldn’t have gone a little deeper.

Additionally, I never felt like I had a really good grasp on Zach’s character. One thing that bugged me from the beginning and might have contributed to this problem, or is at least illustrative of it, is the change in point of view from the prologue to the rest of the book. The prologue gives us a scene of Zach’s father doing his own superhero crime-fighting before his death, which is fine except that it’s written in the first person, while the rest of the novel is in third person. Sure, the third person narrative still gives us direct insight into Zach’s thoughts, but it still seems a strange choice to use the even-more-personal first person perspective for the prologue. All in all, this is a quick and entertaining read, but it wastes some of its potential and there are superhero origin stories out there that do it better.

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