Thursday, 15 June 2017

Superpowerless by Chris Priestley

review by Maryom

To an outsider, sixteen year old David looks and behaves much like any other guy his age - prefers his own company and hanging out in his bedroom to almost anything else. Maybe he's a little less social than others, but he's been through a rough time since his dad died in a car accident, so for a while friends and family have been prepared to cut him some slack. Now though, when they feel he ought to be getting his act together and putting the past behind him, David seems to be getting increasingly unsocial, obsessed with his dad's old super-hero comics and getting decidedly secretive. What his friends don't know is that David has superpowers himself. His super-hearing allows him to eavesdrop on conversations, being invisible means no one notices him (particularly girls) and his ability to fly lets him swoop over the town to help prevent accidents - or so he would like to think. He has another secret too, one that he's equally anxious to hide - that he's using a bird-watching scope to spy on his slightly older, attractive, bikini-clad neighbour, Holly. In doing so he stumbles on a very personal secret she'd like to keep hidden too. When he confronts her, the two form an unlikely bond, with Holly offering practical advice on the mysterious subject of girls and sex, while David tries his best to help her, but puts almost every foot wrong.

This is a story of being that awkward age between child and adult, of learning to accept that we can't always change things to be how we would like, and of first experiments with the opposite sex.
To be honest, especially perhaps from an adult's point of view, David isn't instantly likeable. He's too self-absorbed, too quick to lie to his mum and drag his best friend into the deception too, zooming in on his sunbathing female neighbour isn't polite, and as for imagining he has super-powers? isn't that a bit childish? But give him chance and he begins to grow on you. even when his behaviour is definitely cringe-worthy. It's easy of course to read a story and tell the hero he's making a mess of things, pulling all the wrong moves and making himself look foolish, arrogant and seriously un-cool, but that's how life is, particularly teenage life - full of mistakes we wish we'd avoided, and chances we've missed out on. The author could have created a teen hero who was, well, just that, a hero, the perfect guy in every respect, but David with all his flaws is far nearer to a real teenager, someone that readers can empathise with, and maybe it will give female readers an insight into that most mysterious of places, a teenage boy's mind.

It's odd that only last week I saw someone talking about the lack of books looking at teenage relationships from a boy's perspective, and then this week I've come across two excellent ones - first Anthony McGowan's Rook aimed at younger teens, then this with an older target readership. They're very different but I've loved them both.

Maryom's Review - 5 stars 
Publisher - Hot Key Books 
Genre - YA, relationships, 

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