November 1, 2012
Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities
First sentence: "There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Cooperplate City, but ours is the only one that doesn't suck."
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
I would have had to read this one anyway, being nominated for the Cybils in my category and all, but Betsy gave me the little nudge I needed to bump it up to the top of my "need to read" pile by posting this last Sunday:
How can you NOT want to read a book after that??
Vincent and his friends George and Max are the three members of the "Captain Stupendous Fan Club." Not the Official one. Or the girly one. Or the rich old lady one. What they lack in size (all three of the other ones being much bigger), they make up for in knowledge: they have made it their life's work (all 13 years of it, anyway) to know everything about Captain Stupendous.
Who is Captain Stupendous, you ask?
He is the Superhero who protects Copperplate City from all manner of nefarious individuals: from the rogue bad guy to the master evil genius.
But, in fighting the Evil Professor Mayhem and his Indestructible Robot, something happens to Captain Stupendous. And suddenly, he is not What He Is Supposed To Be. (I'm not going to tell you what happens, even though it's Really Cool. You'll just have to read the book.) And it looks like Professor Mayhem is targeting Vincent's family! Of course, it's up to Vincent, George, and Max to help Captain Stupendous figure out how to beat Professor Mayhem and keep Copperplate City safe.
Yes, this is really over the top. WAY over the top. But, it worked for me. I liked the nod to the kind of superhero geekery that guys (and some girls) get into, knowing every little bit about the superhero they idolize. Jung just took it one step further and made the superhero a real, rather than made-up, person. Which, in my humble opinion, is way cool. And even though the cover screams GUY, there's also a really strong female character in Polly, a girl that the three geeky guys end up befriending.
Additionally, Jung threw in all sorts of regular middle school tropes: there are bullies, and fears about grades, and parents that don't understand their kids, and dealing with parents' significant others, and even a love triangle (of sorts; but only with the adults). Sometimes, those parts feel a bit clunky -- and to be fair, it took a little while for me to settle into the book; the beginning felt choppy -- but, for the most part, I enjoyed the balance between "real" and "superhero". It's not all flying around kicking some serious robot butt or shooting at each other with lasers or jumping out of helicopters. (Though all that does happen.)
Which means this is really the perfect book for everyone. Right?
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I've been asked to make sure y'all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)