Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 334
Finding your own inner strength
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
Tommy is absorbed in everything related to the Order of Cosmic Champions just as many young readers become obsessed with their different interests. He’s read all of the comics, collected the action figures, and watched all of the shows starring various superheroes and supervillains. Tommy is forced into the complications of growing up as his former best friend now says everything about the Order of Cosmic Champions is stupid. Young readers can identify with the tide of emotions coming from fickle friendships in the middle grades.
Tommy’s parents are having marriage problems and he’s stuck in the middle. The author describes Tommy’s thoughts and feelings as his father’s drinking and emotional indifference leave Tommy with unfilled needs. He mostly keeps his feelings bottled up as he craves attention from his parents. His problems are compounded by incessant bullying at his new middle school and he’s embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. His isolation and anger become unbearable and a contest to create a new comic character feels like Tommy’s only chance for salvation. Middle school is a time of major changes and he’s forced to endure the worst of it. Tommy must learn that he has an inner power strong enough to overcome the challenges in his life.
The author wields imaginative, descriptive language using all types of figurative language. Tommy deals with the stress of his growing anger, frustration, and loneliness through dreary dreams and the haunting voice in his mind of an Order of Cosmic Champions villain, Skullagar. The line between reality and imagination becomes blurry and Tommy begins to listen to the voices to cope with his crumbling life. The fury and humiliation of feeling like a victim build inside and Tommy doesn’t know how to handle it. The author allows readers to experience his increasing, destructive emotions and Tommy’s confusion with trying to find a way to let them out.
What didn’t work as well:
I know it’s intended but readers may be confused as to whether Tommy’s experiences are in his mind. Even Tommy wonders. The possibility of an interdimensional world is presented but no one else is able to see and hear what Tommy encounters. Events happening in another dimension would explain it. There are huge battles in the middle of the street with giant craters but bystanders only see Tommy fighting imaginary enemies. Did it actually happen if no one sees it?
The Final Verdict:
The author spins a sensitive tale of a young boy overwhelmed by the complexities of growing up. The adventure moves between reality and imagination (or another dimension) and Tommy finds unexpected help to realize his own emotional strength. I recommend you give this book a shot.
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