BACON, Lee Joshua Dread: The Nameless Hero Hardie Grant Egmont, 2013 289pp $16.95 pbk ISBN 9781742974125 SCIS 1636941
Oh, to be a superhero like the famous characters in comic books! Young Texan author, Lee Bacon, delves into the genre of action hero comics to create a young character whose fantasies are fulfilled in the most prosaic way – a summer camp for children who have been identified as having the Gyft; a Gifted and Talented program unlike any other, complete with Spandex costumes and masks. However, the novel is more than just an entertaining parody of the genre; amid all the intrigue and the skirmishes between the superheroes and the supervillains in the skyscraper canyons of a metropolis is subtly woven cynical observations on the lucre of contrived celebrity culture.
Joshua Dread’s world is a future in which superheroes and supervillains are feted for their deeds and treated like rock stars. Little wonder Joshua and his school friends dream of joining those privileged ranks. A little family tension and secrecy is introduced when Joshua, only child of famous supervillains, the Dread Duo, is mysteriously selected with three others for a hi-tech superhero school, located a mile beneath a tanning studio shopfront. He proves his mettle in routing The Multiplier and his criminal gang of clones and instantly becomes the hottest celebrity in town; and with it comes professional jealousy, broken friendships, commercial opportunism and treachery. The bewildered naive hero must decide whether to be true to himself or live within the artificial persona of a costumed alter ego. Entertaining escapist reading for the sub-teens, stimulating reading for young thinkers. KS