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Gay teen to the

Gay teen to the


Perry Moore's latest novel, Hero, about a budding young superhero and his teenage cohorts, borrows a lot from its predecessors but all in all is a fun read.

While film producer Perry Moore's debut novel, Hero, is dedicated "to everyone," it is clearly intended for the young gay market. Stories of talented and troubled superheroes have long served as allegories for the "dual life" many people experience while in the closet. For example, the successful X-Men trilogy--which pits a handful of misunderstood supermutants against an aggressively intolerant government--drew more than a few connection between the movies' protagonists and our own LGBT activists.

And Moore's protagonist, Thom Creed, is no ordinary superhero. As Thom grapples with his budding powers--the ability to rapidly heal living things--he also struggles with his sexuality, afraid that either could earn him the scorn of his disgraced superhero father. At first, Thom has trouble keeping his power in check. But with trial and error he learns to channel his abilities, and he eventually earns the attention of the League of Superheroes.

Although his father would disapprove--he was ostracized by the League and ultimately the general public after his failed rescue attempt resulted in the loss of thousands of lives--Thom can't resist the opportunity to walk with the superhero greats. In the League he is grouped with a motley assortment of rookies: the trash-talking Miss Scarlet, whose affinity for fire is only matched by her sass; Typhoid Larry, a sweet guy with the unfortunate ability to make people violently ill; and the elderly Ruth, who can read the future--selectively. Together these unlikely heroes overcome their differences and uncover a plot to kill off the League. As he battles supervillains--and encounters a few familiar faces along the way--Thom discovers the truth about his parents and (of course) falls in love.

Overall, Hero is more nostalgic than original. Despite a handful of novel characters, Moore falls to comic book mainstays to fill the rest of the League's ranks. They have new names--Justice, King of the Sea, and Warrior Woman instead of Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman--but otherwise these characters are almost identical. To a comic geek like myself, the act seems a bit disingenuous.

Still, Moore's original creations--Miss Scarlet, Typhoid Larry, Ruth, and Thom's devoted father, Hal Creed--give the novel a surprising amount of depth. And while the uber-hot, basketball-playing Thom may come off as Moore's pubescent wet dream, it is refreshing to encounter a gay protagonist who is not an outcast but rather a naturally charismatic person who chooses solitude until he can sort out his problems.

Moore calls on his film experience to successfully execute the novel's frequent action scenes. But otherwise his play-by-play writing style can seem a bit choppy, especially in the story's more poignant moments. He includes some amusing descriptions of Thom masturbating to Internet porn, coming out to his father (on national television), and sharing his first awkward kiss with a guy in a car. And while not everyone may be able to relate to being a popular jock, we all can share in his growing pains. Hero is a quick, at times shallow, but satisfying novel, the kind we all wanted while growing up and hopefully the first in a new genre of young adult literature.

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Steven Gaughan