Friday, November 20, 2009
The Adventures of Blue Avenger by Norma Howe
This picture is a little small, but I love this cover. It's dynamic, interesting, and it perfectly illustrates the book's idea. It's a little 90s, but I like it. It has that "I want to be a superhero" attitude that I know so well.
Anyway, the book is indeed about a superhero, of a sort. The titular Blue Avenger starts out as 16-year-old David Schumacher, the average (but smart) student whose hobby is drawing a superhero called the Blue Avenger. He considers himself to be Blue Avenger, and has the blue-fishing-vest and towel-turban ensemble to prove it. (I can't remember whether he based the character on himself, or if they just grew together over time, but it doesn't really matter.) On his 16th birthday, he changes his name and takes on the persona of Blue Avenger in order to right the wrongs of the world.
I really liked it, but it's kind of odd, and not in an objective way. There was just something about it I couldn't put my finger on. It's kind of a YA story written in kids' prose... The characters say intense 16-year-old things, but in an almost simplistic 11-year-old way. Blue is a great character, very recognizable and easy to connect with but a little offbeat and quirky, teetering perfectly between adult and child, and he doesn't see the world the same way anybody else does. His friend Omaha is a little more of a stereotype, the mostly-mean tomboy with the vulnerable side that everybody likes for some reason even though she's mostly mean. (Okay, in this case I don't remember everybody liking her, mostly just Blue, and he has his own personal mental processes.)
The main theme of the book is the major philosophical debate of free will vs. fate, much more heady stuff than I expected, which is great. In fact, I don't think it went far enough. It only really presents the predestination argument, which is a valid argument, but it's incomplete without the equally valid choice argument. No real resolution is offered either, I personally prefer a conclusion even if I don't agree with it, but for a book for kids that's not necessarily appropriate so I understand leaving it out. Also note the painfully apparent and oversimplified gun control message, which was surprising considering the complexity of the other theme.
This is one of those wacky books I always loved as a kid, full of bizarre facts and random events. It's a quick, fun book, and I'm really glad I read it. I recommend Suck It Up(review), Grooves, and Winchell Mink.
Buy The Adventures of Blue Avenger (Even though it has a horrible blob thing on the cover now. What is that?)