Verdict: Excellent, well paced and full of laughs.
My brother is a superhero and I could have been one too, except I needed a wee. This is the first line of David Solomons’ debut children’s novel. You know David Solomons. He’s that guy who wrote episodes of Buffy and Angel with Joss Whedon. Yeah. That guy.
Anyway, writing credentials aside, I picked up MBIAS on a recommendation from a friend and the Waterstones’ premise:
Luke is a comic-mad eleven-year old who shares a treehouse with his geeky older brother, Zack. Luke’s only mistake is to go for a wee right at the wrong time. While he’s gone, an alien gives his undeserving, never-read-a-comic-in-his-life brother superpowers and then tells him to save the universe. Luke is massively annoyed about this, but when Zack is kidnapped by his arch-nemesis, Luke and his friends have only five days to find him and save the world…
Who wouldn’t want tor read that?
Simply put, the novel was great. It was fun, perfectly paced and the characters were geeky, loveable, frustratingly stupid, clever, brave and generally wonderful. Overall, it was strangely realistic for a superhero children’s fantasy book: Zack and Luke still had to navigate homework, the fact that they have a curfew, bath and bedtime, etc., and have to contend with parental supervision despite the fact that adults simply get in the way.
The humour came through with every page and there were quite a few one-liners that had me laughing. Anyone who has grown up as a comic book geek will appreciate the nods to the way of life. My favourite part was the ‘wrong lever’ trope, which led to a genuinely page-turning scene. Anyone who hasn’t grown up (or isn’t growing up at the moment) will probably still love the book; I can’t see any reason they wouldn’t. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of reading this book – although I’m sure I probably received some odd looks as I was racing through it on the commute to and from work.
Zack and Luke were great and believable brothers; the disinterest in each other’s lives, the squabbling, but the inevitable (and somewhat begrudging) bond that is more important that everything else. Anyone who’s ever had an older brother will understand Luke’s point of view immediately. The side characters were also endearing and fleshed out; Lara more than Serge, in my opinion. The villain was dutifully dastardly (complete with that laugh) and both Zack and Luke came through as heroes you could understand and like. The final showdown ended exactly how you knew it had to, but I liked the true ‘come over to the Dark Side, we have cookies’ temptation of Luke. I was a big fan of the message that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.
As flaws go, it was sometimes a bit too mystery-adventure-by-numbers for me, but it is a children’s book after all. I wasn’t expecting anything unnecessarily complicated, and the easy-to-follow plot was part of the novel’s charm. I will definitely be recommending this to my nieces and nephew – and I’ll be watching out for the sequel (because there HAS to be a sequel) so I can read it myself.