By Christopher E. Long
Available now from Flux (Llewellyn)
I have a weakness for superhero books. Thus I was super excited to sit down and read HERO WORSHIP, the young adult debut from Christopher E. Long. He does have a background in comics, so I had pretty high expectations.
HERO WORSHIP was an incredibly fast read for me. I didn't expect to finish it in a single day! (It's hard to read a full book on a work day, after all.) I really liked Marvin Maywood, the protagonist. He's the Superman or Captain America type of hero -- the guy who does the right thing because it is the right thing. Unfortunately for Marvin, it's illegal for him to use his powers.
In the world of HERO WORSHIP, people with powers are tested when they manifest. "Clean" powers are a fast track to celebrity and possibly membership in superhero team The Core. "Dirty" powers are illegal, and most pay to have therapy to get rid of them. Marvin and his two best friends are homeless and scraping by as a result, since they refuse to get rid of their powers. Then Marvin saves a family and finds himself being courted by Eliza, a clean superhero.
It's an interesting world starring some characters I love (Marvin and his friends), but I thought the plot was a little weak. Marvin fails to notice obviously bad things staring him in the face. Once he clues in, he still walks into an obviously bad situation. If you can't tell from the previous paragraph, Marvin's world is pretty obviously corrupt. Yet I never quite believed that the cover up works, given how many people have to be involved. And there was an incredibly off-putting scene of sexual violence that hangs there like a bad taste. It doesn't affect the plot and there's no scene of emotional reaction (which I would expect) and . . . the book just goes there and then basically ignores that it happened.
I enjoyed HERO WORSHIP, but I think its appeal is mostly restricted to superhero fans. There are other stories out there that have more cross-genre appeal. The central characters are strong enough that I'm interested in reading whatever Long writes next.