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Book Review: Wonderboy by Nicole Burstein

Published August 2016 by Andersen Press.

27430362Goodreads Synopsis: A funny and frank superhero story set in the world of Othergirl.
Joseph ‘Wilco’ Wilkes is one of life’s loser’s – he’s picked on, pushed around, and bullied by the rugby boys at the posh private school he attends on a scholarship. But his life is about to change: Wilco learns he can move things with his mind. Will this be his chance to play the hero, get the girl and finally stand up for himself? Or are things just going to come crashing down around his head? Becoming a proper hero will be quite the leap of faith…

My Review: I absolutely adored Othergirl, Nicole Burstein’s debut novel – so when I discovered her second book was coming out, I was eager to give it a go!

I dove into this thinking it was a sequel to Burstein’s debut – but it’s in fact simply set in the same world as Othergirl – a world much like ours, but with global network of superheroes called the Vigils. Wonderboy can be read as a standalone novel – though, to appreciate a couple of scenes even more, it’s definitely worth reading Burstein’s first book too!

I really loved reading about the alternate world this is set in. Burstein visibly draws on her love of X-Men, but her universe is hardly a knock-off of the franchise; it’s really enjoyable and brilliant fun – from each of the Vigils, to their secret operations and offices. I love how the classic elements of a superhero story have been taken straight from all my favourite comics, and reworked to create a fantastic novel: it’s not cliche, it feels like a fresh new perspective on classic superheroes. A homage to comics. 🙂

I love that, despite Wonderboy being a brilliantly adventurous story, it’s still down to earth in the sense that it addresses some serious topics as well. Quite cleverly, when Joseph reveals his identity, it mirrors coming out in a couple of scenes, which I thought was actually a very cool and important thing to do, especially for an audience of young readers. Joseph’s life also really well explored, and we learn lots of things about his life that are the reason why he is bullied; for instance, how his mum doesn’t have very much money, so he’s in a private school on a scholarship that is looked down upon.I really liked how Burstein wrote about this so realistically.

It is so hard to not love the characters. Of both books Burstein has written, I have adored all of the protagonists. They’re just fantastic!  Joseph was really relatable, I think, and such a well fleshed-out character. Although we didn’t see very much of him ‘in action,’ (this is more of a story about him discovering his powers) I grew to love reading about him.

Overall, Wonderboy was a really brilliant read, from an author I know will be only be gaining more and more attention in the world of fiction. Nicole is a fantastic writer, and has crafted yet another enjoyable story in her instant-classic superhero world. Fingers crossed there’ll be another title soon!

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Wonderboy from the publisher, via Lovereading4kids, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: OTHERGIRL by Nicole Burstein

Published 2nd April 2015 by Andersen Press.

22854303Goodreads Synopsis: Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They’re closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.
When Erica isn’t doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero’s BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can’t win every fight by herself.
Life isn’t a comic book – it’s even crazier than that.

My Review: I’ve been following the author of Othergirl, Nicole, on Twitter for a while and she often tweets about geeky awesomeness, mainly comics – so I was really eager to read her début novel as soon as I heard of the book deal. After what seemed like a long time, I wandered into Waterstones a while ago and didn’t realise it was out. I’ve never purchased a book quicker!

A main reason I was excited about this was that it tells the story of the one stock comic book character who’s always left behind; the superhero’s best friend. Louise has known Erica for years, and helped her through her discovery of superpowers – even making a costume for her.When Erica’s secret powers suddenly mean she’s part of a very big event, Louise is pretty much left behind, as Erica quite literally flies off without her.

The plot was so brilliantly written and paced. I intended to only read a few chapters, but ended up reading the entire book in one go. I loved the idea behind the story and it was told brilliantly, with some humour and a little romance too that I wasn’t expecting. The world in Othergirl is identical to our own… but there’s a world famous, world wide network of Superheroes called the Vigils, sponsored by large companies and immortalised on kids’ walls as posters. I really enjoyed reading about the superhero organisation, and kinda wish there was one like it IRL… 😀

The characters are so brilliantly crafted and understandable. Louise is a caring friend who always goes the extra mile, while Erica is more self-absorbed and tends to be more reckless and angry. Their chemistry is really interesting. I never fully liked Erica as she was often pretty dismissive of Louise – and I resonated with Louise more, being the typical quiet nerd. The ending made me tear up a little, actually!

Overall, Othergirl was definitely worth the wait. It was exactly as great as I wished it would be, and more. I’m so happy there’s a book like this in the YA market.  The characters were so fun to read about, as was the inventive world of superheroes Nicole Burstein has created. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an author’s personality reflected so much in their work as in Othergirl. (Also, bonus! Little comic book tributes hidden in the novel…) Highly recommended – this has fast become a favourite of the year.

My Rating:

five

I purchased a copy of OTHERGIRL from a local bookstore.