Dull Boy

Dull Boy

Author: Sarah Cross

Publication: Dutton, 2009

Pages: 308

Overall Rating: bth_45_zps06f87659[1]                       

Rating for Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]  

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary:  Avery has recently discovered that he has powers.  He’s super strong and he can fly.  It’s cool, but it makes life difficult too.  He had to quit the wrestling team after he accidentally broke someone’s arm and he keeps racking up huge bills for his parents every time he accidentally tears the door off a car.  And when they discover he’s actually out trying to rescue people they get a little crazy and ship him off to a special school.

Things are looking pretty bleak until Avery discovers that he’s not alone.  There are other kids with powers out there.  Together, they have to learn to control their abilities and dig deep in order to find what it takes to trust one another and come together as a team of superheroes.

And then there’s Cherchette, an older woman with powers of her own who keeps trying to recruit them.  She wants them to leave their families and come train with her. But Avery and the others are suspicious.  What are her real motives?  Does she truly care about them, or does she only want to use them?  And once they discover her real secret, will any of them survive?

Age of Main Character: Upper teens

What I Liked the Most: Cross has a great writing style.  Her dialogue feels rich and authentic and Avery’s voice is amazingly cool.   I couldn’t help but be drawn into his character.   In fact, all of her characters were great.  She’s created a fantastically diverse cast, all of them well crafted and infinitely believable.

Cross really kept me wondering what was going to happen, and trying to figure out Cherchette’s relationship to Avery right up until the very end.  And the end itself was another great cliffhanger that sets the stage for the next installment in this series and left me wanting more.

The book provided a perfect mix of emotional turmoil and action.  Cross digs deep into her characters and splatters their emotions across the page without making it feel melodramatic or skimping on the action sequences, and she does it all with a healthy dose of humor.

What I Liked the Least: I won’t say the book started out slow, but it did take 30 or 40 pages to really get into.  But once I was hooked, I leapt into this book with serious enthusiasm.

How Good was the Action?  This isn’t non-stop action.  Like I said above, Cross does a good job balancing action with drama and character development.  But there are a number of action sequences throughout the book and for the most part they’re very well done.  While many of the action scenes bristle with tension, others are infused with humor, particularly some of the scenes earlier in the book where Avery and his friends are still trying to get a handle on their powers.

How Engaging was the Story?   As I said, Cross has done a great job delving into her characters.  I really cared for them by the end.  And the relationships she’s woven between them are wonderfully intricate.  When combined with Avery’s authentic and often humorous voice this was a deeply engaging read.  I was especially drawn to the tumultuous relationship between Avery and Catherine and my desire to discover what it was that drove Catherine to such extremes of brittle anger and mistrust.

Cross then takes this already engaging set of characters and throws Cherchette and her son Jacques into the mix.  The ongoing tension that stems from her efforts to recruit them, and the mystery of why she wants to help them in the first place, helped make this a very engaging story indeed.

Overall Assessment: This was a great read.  It was fun, engaging, dark, and energetic.  It wasn’t a romance – though there are elements of romantic tension – and it wasn’t an action thriller with nonstop fights and chases, but it was a well-balanced story filled with moments of tense action.

Profanity: None

Sex: None, though one of the characters does dress in fairly skimpy clothes as part of her costume and there is a bit of sexual tension in the air.

Violence: Yes, there are fights, but there’s no gore and well the fight scenes are well done they aren’t in any way bloody or graphic.  As I said earlier, many of them even involve a touch of humor.

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