The Adventures of Blue Avenger Review

The Adventures of Blue Avenger
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This is a wonderful book, which is fairly well described by the reviews above. It is a kind of real-life fantasy, where the main character adopts a comic-book superhero persona and immediately starts living a comic-book superhero type existence, where he is instantly popular at school and nothing serious goes wrong. (In some ways, this book is like a teen version of Laurie Colwin's Happy All the Time. There is no traditional conflict, not among peers, not between kids and parents or teachers or society. There are tragedies, but they are all in the past.) The themes are mature: sexuality (a very sweet version of it), personal responsibility, the ways in which people advance themselves at a cost to others. The author is very ambitious, and not all of what she tries works, but a great deal does. One issue: my wife mistakenly bought this for our 10-year-old son, for whom it is clearly inappropriate. It is not so clear what group of kids should read it. Kids old enough to appreciate a condom-buying scene (a high point in the book that is clearly, if coyly, divorced from the conventional reasons for buying condoms) and smart enough to like the frequent philosophical discussions and ironic authorial intrusions will generally have moved beyond Young Adult fiction. They may resent the undercurrent of goody-goody preachiness (the protagonists predictably and enthusiastically opt for chastity; there is a lot of anti-vulgarity propaganda) and the odd reticence that produces a great deal of very unspecific talk about sex ("He pondered the difference between love and lust." "Their hormones were raging.") Basically, this is a book that has to fit into a narrow window of opportunity in which kids have enough interest and information to care about the themes but will find the coyness comforting. Also, although it is not a "girls' book" per se, girls will probably like it a lot more than boys - it is really a girls' fantasy about the perfect boyfriend.

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