Book: Super

Author: Matthew Cody

Cover Illustrator: Geoffrey Lorenzen

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0375868948

ISBN-10: 0375868941

Related website: (publisher)

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Reading level: Ages 8 and up

Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Cody, MatthewSuper (published in 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House Inc., New York City, NY).  This book is a sequel to Powerless (Knopf, 2009), in which the family of twelve-year-old Daniel Corrigan returned to the hometown of his dead grandmother Eileen Stewart, at Noble’s Green, PA, where he made friends with several kids, including Eric, Mollie, Rohan, Louisa, and little Rose, all of whom had secret superpowers.  However, a supervillian called the Shroud, also known as Herman Plunkett, was bent on stealing their powers.  Though powerless himself, Daniel was able to stop the Shroud and make it possible for his friends to keep those powers.  In Super, Daniel, now thirteen, is starting to display some powers too, while at the same time, his friends are losing theirs.  Eric thinks that Daniel is just becoming a Super himself, but Daniel is afraid that something more sinister may be at work. 

     Then Daniel and his friends are attacked by some sinister beings which they call Shades. It all seems to coincide with the arrival in town of Herman Plunkett’s nephew Theo Plunkett.  Is Herman Plunkett still alive?  Is the Shroud back?   Could Daniel be his new power-stealing vessel?   Or might Theo be the culprit?  And who or what are these Shades?  I have not read Powerless, and I think that some things in Super might have been a bit easier to understand if I had.  However, the sequel is certainly an engaging story with both an exciting plot and sympathetic characterization that will quickly draw the reader into the action.  There is no actual profanity, but Theo is said to have “shouted obscenities” and Daniel is said to have “cursed softly under his breath.”  Why authors of children’s books even feel the need to mention such things is totally beyond me.  Aside from a few common euphemisms (heck, gee, darn it), a couple of childish slang terms appear.  One of Cody’s favorite words seems to be “butt” for the rear end, given the number of times that it is found, and a couple of references to “peeing” occur.  Most people today would probably have no problem with this, but when I was growing up, those two terms were considered inappropriate in our home and we were taught not to use them.  So I still point them out so that parents will know.

     A bit of “boy-girl” activity which some parents might feel is a little above the eight to thirteen age level takes place in that while Daniel and Louisa deny being boyfriend-girlfriend, Louisa does give Daniel a kiss that is “more than friendly.”  The requisite nod to “modern-day relevance” is that Eric’s mother is living with her current boyfriend who drinks a lot, though Eric certainly disapproves of the arrangement.  But for me the most troubling note is that there seems to be a lot of emphasis on the lying that Daniel and his friends have to do to keep their secret from adults, although one might accede to the wisdom and need of concealing some of the truth under the circumstances.  Having noted these possible negatives, I will still say that Super is an enjoyable tale that will appeal to tweens and young teens who like comic book type stories but are willing to read actual text instead of just looking at pictures with conversation bubbles.  It all leads to a happy and satisfactory, if somewhat ambiguous, ending. Matthew Cody is also the author of The Dead Gentleman.

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