Publisher: February 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Reviewed by: Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide
With a title that mentions supervillains, I immediately think comic books and of course, superheroes. When I first picked up BLAZE, I wasn’t quite sure if this was a book actually about superheroes – Turns out… It wasn’t, BUT I did find something even better. What I would describe as a Big Bang Theory-lover’s YA contemporary novel.
After her father left, Blaze (yes, that’s her real name) has ended up as the soccer mom of her family. Her mom got her dream job working in a hospital, so Blaze does her sisterly duties driving her younger brother and his friends to and from soccer games. The job comes with its perks though… Blaze gets to sit on the sidelines and in between reading and drawing comics, she gets to marvel at the wonder that is their soccer coach: Her fellow classmate and total hottie, Mark. When Blaze and Mark finally start talking, they really start to hit it off and she couldn’t be more thrilled but… is there more to Mark than meets the eye? Ignoring her younger brother’s warning, Blaze dives headfirst into her dream-relationship with Mark, but will she end up with a whole lot more than she bargained for?
I was so impressed with this book, I must say. When I first started, I was a teensy bit scared about the main character being a comic book geek – Not that there’s anything against that, but I know like, zip about comics except for the basic pop culture knowledge. I was hoping as a Big Bang Theory fan, I would be able to appreciate the humor and geek-o-riffic references. For the most part, I’d say the book totally translates well! Obviously there are some comic references that I didn’t really know much about, but they’re all explained and I really appreciated getting to know more about some famous as well as lesser know superheroes. In fact, it almost made me want to pick up a comic book myself!
Now that you have a superhero image in your mind, don’t be fooled – we’re not actually dealing with the guys in capes and masks. Blaze (who was named after a comic book hero) picked up the obsession after reading her father’s comics, but she came across as a very real character to me. She goes through a lot of ups and downs that the average teen has and then some. I really enjoyed her personality – making me fully support here, whether her decisions made me laugh or cringe.
This is a young adult book, but it deals with some pretty serious stuff. Without revealing any major plot points/spoilers, Blaze ends up in some tight spots because of poor decisions, which ironically, I loved. I felt like as a teenager, although I may have not been in the same exact position as Blaze, I felt like I’d gone through some pretty similar stuff or had seen friends who have gone through it – from being pressured into sexual situations too soon to bullying to friends who don’t support you to hiding things from your family. Some of it was hard to swallow and you just feel so bad for Blaze, but I really felt genuine emotions for her and it really helped me connect with her as a character! She just seemed so normal to me and reacted how any teenager might in the same situations. Although it’s some serious stuff and may be more appropriate for older teens, I almost want to give this book to kids Blaze’s age and be like, “READ THIS. Don’t make the same mistakes!”
I felt like the lightness of the comic book-feel really helped balance out the darker times in Blaze’s life. As a reader, I really liked the balance between the light and the heavy of the book and as a character, I think Blaze used that to her advantage as well. I really loved the way it was written – and it was so refreshing to read a stand-alone when I’m in the middle of so many series!!
Overall, I’d give it a 9/10. I honestly read this book in one sitting and was totally sucked into it. Laurie Boyle Crompton wrote a great debut and I’d definitely recommend it to people looking for something a little different and refreshing!
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 9. I actually kind of loved Blaze! She just felt so real, like a normal person, and I totally saw pieces of myself in her character. She had a great range of emotions and everything felt true to her character.
How much did I like the love interest: ZERO for Mark. For the REAL love interest that you want to root for (that would be Comic Store Guy) 9. I loved Comic Store Guy (real name: Quentin) was stinkin’ adorable. He said all the right things to give you the warm-fuzzies and he was a perfect match for Blaze!
How believable is the plot: 8. What’s scary is that it’s so believable. Blaze ends up a HUGE target of bullying and that’s terrifying. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in her position. I think the only thing that takes away believability-factor is certain aspects of Mark’s character and just the way that the ending worked itself out. I’m not going to go into details for spoiler purposes, but I wasn’t quite sure that would really happen.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. The only thing I didn’t care for was that at times it was…… too “boyish”, if that makes sense? I was kind of a tomboy growing up (still am, really) but even I roll my eyes at stupid things like fart jokes. It wasn’t like it was a huge part of the story, but it did have a bit of an impact on me. The rest of the writing & editing – Looooved it.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. As much as I loved that it was a standalone, I really wanted to read more about Blaze. She was so much fun to “meet” and the book was a total breeze. I literally read the whole thing in one sitting
and was shocked when I was done because it was so easy to read!
Final Score: 9/10. BLAZE was certainly different from your average contemporary and I think many people will be taken by surprise! I’d definitely recommend it, especially to people who can appreciate nerd humor (I’m talking to you, Big Bang Theory fans)! I’m definitely interested in more from Laurie Boyle Crompton and loved her debut!