Multiple Masks: Hero, by Perry Moore

Thom Creed is keeping two secrets from his father, and it’s a toss up on which one’s revelation will cause the most disappointment: Thom is gay, and he has superpowers. His father’s past as a masked crime fighter is responsible for one being a problem, his desire for a family legacy, the other. Yet Thom can’t help either fact. When an aborted runaway attempt brings him to the attention of the League, the world’s premier superhero team, Thom is soon juggling his own dreams against his father’s. Family secrets, including the cause of his mother’s disappearance will get outed, and Thom will have to choose between doing the right thing and losing his anonymity along with his father’s love.

Perry Moore’s Hero is yet another book, highly recommended, award-winning, and endorsed by no less than Stan Lee, that I’ve meant to read for a long while. I finally pulled it off the shelf this week and found myself deeply engrossed. It’s not often I finish a book, put it down, and contemplate immediately cracking it open again.

Hero draws a lot on themes of romance, being an outsider, and the search for a parent’s love and approval; but they’re given a good twist in the protagonist’s dual secrets. Moore weaves a world deeply inspired by those drawn by DC and Marvel. He lets the super-hero motif come to life with all the camp that spandex and capes imply. Moore writes frankly, imbuing Thom with honest commentary on his sexuality while perfectly capturing many awkward young adult moments. I cringed at a lot of these, because they often felt so genuine and familiar. The romance, a slow burn, is touching and difficult, as only first love can be. Thom’s need to be his own person while keeping his father’s respect is the central conflict, and it’s that issue which resonates the most.

Hero was especially hard to read knowing that Moore recently died and that we won’t be getting a follow up to Thom’s adventures or see any other great stories. I’m sad to see such a voice silenced so young and with so much potential. I will re-read Hero. It’s earned a permanent place on the shelf. This, and a strong recommendation, are the best testaments I can give.

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