I mentioned in my review of the first book that opening with a salvo of self-insert fanfic is a powerful way to begin a book, and apparently the author agreed, because this one opens with a full-on broadside. And out of that cringe frying pan, and into the awkward fire of a teenager being caught, mid-makeout-session, by his dad. Oof.
Nick, the protagonist, remains categorically the best take on a teenager I’ve ever read. No other superhero media captures quite the degree of astonishingly bad decision-making provided by the average 16-year-old boy. Peter Parker has his one dramatic character moment early in every reboot, and then after that he’s a mature adult? I’m gonna need a story arc explaining that along with the walking on the ceiling, the spider bite also magically fixed the mess of hormones that is Being A Teen, because I refuse to believe how stupid he isn’t most of the time. Nick, though? Nick is an ongoing disaster, and it’s hilarious. I had to put the book down just to laugh, multiple times.
It helps that he’s got a good support network, because just about every character that’s there is wonderful. His friends are just as hilarious, the parents—and, good lord, I’m suddenly feeling my age as I write this—are very relatable as they roast their kids for the aforementioned very bad decision-making skills, and there’s a few new characters that show up partway through that make it just that much more fun.
I picked this up within a week of finishing the last one, which I highly recommended, and I’m gonna highly recommend this one too. My biggest complaint is that it’s the second of three books, and the story arc has a distinctive Empire Strikes Back feel of “oh, this isn’t getting wrapped up well by the end of the book, is it” throughout. But then, I picked up the third book at the same time I was grabbing the second, so it turns out I’m pretty well-prepared for that.1
- That isn’t the only parallel to cinema that’s present in the meta-level; the book also has a post-credits sting that hit me like a truck, in the same way that some of the Marvel end-credits scenes just locked me in for watching the next one in the franchise. ↩
- This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores. ↩