THE EXTRAORDINARIES by T. J. Klune.
Hodder & Stoughton. h/b. £16.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Nick Bell, also known as ShadowStar744, is a 16-year-old fan writer with a cop for a father, a fabulous group of best friends who only occasionally berate him for his life choices, and a potentially unhealthy obsession with Shadow Star, one of the Extraordinaries, or vigilantes in capes as some would have it. Some have powers for good and some for evil. Shadow Star is definitely a force for good in Nick’s world. He dreams of meeting his hero, but will it live up to his expectations if he ever does?
Concentra is supposed to help Nick concentrate – he has ADHD after all. A pill a day, taken dutifully without fail. Though it tastes awful Nick takes it because his father asks him to, and because his mother is no longer alive to ask the same. It is a mundane breakfast time on a mundane day until Rebecca Firestorm starts reporting on TV and Nick knows what that means. If she is there, it means Shadow Star is involved. It may be the first day of school, and it may even be that Nick’s father was on the scene of the incident being reported, but none of it matters any more. Shadow Star is there to save the day, like always.
Of course, every hero needs a villain and that is where Pyro Storm comes in. Nick follows their fights in real life just as passionately as he reports them in his fan fiction. With that, school, an ex-boyfriend, an increasingly distant best friend and the angst and prejudices of a teenage life, things are not going to run smoothly for Nick.
The Extraordinaries is packed full of fantastic humour which bridges the gap between the reader and this story’s teenage hero. Nick is charmingly oblivious to just about everything going on around him outside of the fantasy sphere of his creation, and his obsession and absorption with everything to do with his own life leaves him hilariously blinkered to the unexpected realities close to home.
To those who may be dubious about picking up a book where a 16-year-old is telling the narrative, pick it up anyway – you will be pleasantly impressed. Nick is young and he is definitely extra. At times he is outrageously inappropriate and tactless. He is also naively endearing, sweet and caring, amusingly inept and above all a unique protagonist. One gets the distinct impression this is not the last we will hear of Nick Bell and the Extraordinaries, and that can only be a good thing.