Adult author McCullough (the Fallen Blade series) offers a rousing parody of superhero tales in his first book for children. Thirteen-year-old Evan Quick is obsessed with “Masks” (McCullough’s term for superheroes) and particularly loves the great Captain Commanding. After Evan witnesses the Captain’s defeat by the supervillain Spartanicus, he manages to turn the tables on the villain, discovering that he himself is a budding Mask. But the egocentric Captain takes credit for Spartanicus’s capture, portraying Evan as an abject wimp. When Evan enrolls in the Academy for Metahuman Operatives, aka the School for Sidekicks, he learns that Captain Commanding has had him blackballed—no adult Mask will work with him except for the disgraced Foxman, “a failure, and a drunk,” as Evan puts it. Evan’s smartass narration, dangerous run-ins with evil Hoods, tough moral quandaries, and a wild range of superpowered heroes and villains—including Blurshift, a genderfluid shapeshifer, and the Fluffinator, who commands an army of “plush collectibles” (don’t call them teddy bears)—make this an excellent choice for any reader awaiting the next Marvel film. Ages 10–14. Agent: Jack Byrne, Sternig & Byrne Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/18/2015 Release date: 08/04/2015 Genre: Children's
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