Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just Who Are The Bad Guys Here?

I am a big fan of Jack D. Ferraiolo's The Big Splash, which my twelve-year-old niece also enjoyed. (And which I am now going to start referring to as "junior noir," having seen the expression somewhere in the last couple of weeks.) Thus, I picked up his new book, Sidekicks.

Sidekicks is definitely not noir, and I admire a writer moving among genres. What genre is this? Superhero? Is that a genre? Fantasy/scifi? Beats me. I gave up reading superhero comic books when I was in my teens, so I don't know what's been going on with them recently. I can't say that Sidekicks is covering new superhero ground or riffing on any particular kind of superhero theme, because I just don't know. But Ferraiolo does come up with some reasoning for superheroes being super that doesn't involve being exposed to radioactivity. Their existence is a little mysterious the way many physical conditions are a little mysterious, but the medical community in Sidekicks' universe does know about them.

I think most readers will figure out fairly easily that the uberhero Phantom Justice, for whom our main character, Bright Boy/Scott Hutchinson is a sidekick, is more than just controlling of his young ward. However, no one else in this book is who they seem to be, either. The story opens with Bright Boy experiencing the classic teen boy nightmare of being caught responding to the presence of a really good looking young woman. Only in his case, he's caught by a TV camera, and he becomes the laughing stock of a population accustomed to the presence of superheroes.

Bright Boy believes his hokie Spandexie outfit that leaves nothing to the imagination is the greatest problem in his life. If only that were true.

I will admit that Ferraiolo took me by surprise with the secret identity of one character who I had actually forgotten about. I was very pleased. This is an entertaining read that ought to attract readers who aren't interested in realistic fiction.

Sidekicks is a complete story without a cliffhanger, though it does seem to have the potential for a sequel. But, then, superhero stories always do.

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