Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1356
Trouble right here in New Liberty
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Michael was abandoned at a White Castle as a baby and raised in an orphanage near New Liberty, and is eventually adopted by his dad, who is a "mad scientist" who lives off the grid and events gadgets for evil doers. He takes very good care of Michael even though their home is a bit thread bare. Michael is friends with Zach Romano, another orphan adopted by Tony, who has New Liberty under his thumb in a Mafia-like way. The two like to hang out at the local mall and gawk awkwardly at girls, and this is how Michael meets Viola. Here's the catch-- Michael has the ability to make people do his bidding. And Zach can make spikes poke out of his flesh. So far, Mike's used his power mainly to bilk people at ATMs out of small amounts of cash so he and his dad can afford food, but he's tempted to use it to have some female company. Or, more likely, to help his dad out when The Comet, a new superhero, arrives in New Liberty and starts messing with the carefully constructed support network that Michael and his father have set up. When The Dictator, an evil villain, also arrives and puts Michael's dad in peril, Michael knows that he will have to use his powers.

This was awesome! I have a lot of students asking for super hero/villain books, and the brilliant part about Anderson's writing is that he drops you right into the well-constructed world of New Liberty without apology AND he totally gets middle school boys. The friendship between Michael and Zach is wonderfully warm, but in a hit-you-on-the-shoulder-instead-of-hug-you way, and Michael's appreciation of Viola is pitch perfect. I really liked the depiction of his father, which shows that you don't have to be perfect to be a parent, you just have to be present and concerned. The cover also gets the perfect middle school balance between goofy and serious. I'd sort of like to know more about Michael, but the fact that Anderson's books are also (somewhat related) stand alones-- just right.

The only weakness that I found is that I completely forgot how this ties in with the first book, but I'm sure my students could remind me!
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