I suspect this book would work great for a young audience. For me, I got distracted several times by things not lining up with reality or plot points getting a little convoluted. The author has a lot of potential, I think, and I definitely see how he understands the superhero genre. I really liked that Benji’s emotions were believable as he responds to the tragedy of what’s happened to him and also the high school tensions he’s currently experiencing. Again, I think the book would work great for young teens for that reason – the main character is relatable and a good, smart, brave role model.
The side characters are great too, namely Andy, but even the bully brother, Buzz, served his purpose. I really liked the grandmother, and it was nice to see a Spiderman-esque relationship with an older, loving family figure. The subtle way Andy is gay was great because he wasn’t portrayed as a stereotype, and he’s exactly the friend Benji needs – both in superhero struggles and teenage ones.
All that said, there was a lot that didn’t work for me. According to the book blurb, the Darkness supposedly is his nemesis, but she’s barely in the book at all. Most of the “nemesis” tension is definitely with Buzz. I can see how the supervillain aspect needed to get in here to set up for future books, but there wasn’t much here. When it does come, the book suddenly shifts into this long backflash that seems weirdly placed in the story. Also, Benji falling head-over-heels for Hen was a bit infuriating when she’s being so awful. And, some parts of the book struggled with reality. The whole scene in the ER was ridiculous, given he used a fake ID. Who is older between Andy and Buzz is super-confusing because the ages/birth order don’t match even on the same page. Some of the descriptions of traveling around New York are weird (I was actually there when I read this, and it didn’t make sense). Benji thinks of Andy as clingy when really they haven’t even hung out after their initial meeting. Hen is this horrible girl who suddenly likes Benji and becomes perfect…
I could go on, but if you’re just reading this book for fun, it is fun. Benji is likeable as a hero. Andy becomes a great sidekick. The powers Benji gets are cool. Overall, I’d say younger teens would enjoy this if they like Spiderman.
See it on Amazon!