Dear Hero – Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat – INtense Publications – Published 28 September 2020
Cortex and V need a new nemesis. Cortex’s last villain dumped him, and V got a little overeager and took out her hero prematurely. They meet on Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops and hiring henchman to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they realize they have a lot more in common than meets the eye. And they may have a lot more hero and villain inside than they realize.
I am always on the lookout for superhero novels. a) they are an awesome mix of action and either fantasy or science fiction and b) they are hard to come by, so I jumped at the chance to read Dear Hero. Dear Hero is written entirely in short messages shared between the two main characters, which makes for a creative novel, if one that leaves the backstory and world building a little unclear.
Cortex is a hero. When his last villain leaves him, he decides to reach out on Meta-Match to find a new one. V is looking for a hero to fight with. She and Cortex begin exchanging messages and then they start to meet to practice their hero villain routine, but when someone close to them is kidnapped, they have to team up.
My main problem with this books comes down to the format. I applaud the authors for giving it a go. Writing an entire book in text messages or DMs would not be easy. It’s creative and quick to read. The problem comes with the reader trying to get an accurate view of the characters, backstory, world and culture. All those things remained unclear. I needed, wanted to know more about the concept of how the hero and villain structure works, why they do what they do, more about the governance of heroes and villains and how they fit into the larger world picture, the pop culture that surrounds it and the world that had been created.
I wanted to know more about V and Cortex, who they were, outside of what they present to each other in their messages. The text message format also means the action effective happens offscreen and is relayed to the reader, which takes the excitement out of the action and feels a little stilted.
If you are like novels with creative formats, definitely give Dear Hero a go, but I think the story would have been stronger had the authors not been constrained to such a restrictive format.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Heroes, villains, family, relationships,
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: References to violence, fighting.
Published: 28 September 2020 by INtense Publications.
Format: Hardcover, paperback.