Author: Wesley King
Genre: YA, Superheroes, Magical Reality/Paranormal, Contemporary
Publication Date: June 27, 2013
Source: Publisher-provided Finished copy
Summary: After using your newfound super powers to defeat the most evil villains on the planet, what could you possibly do for an encore?
After defeating their villain mentors, the Vindico, James, Hayden, Sam, Emily and Lana are finally ready to join the League of Heroes. But as their induction into the League draws near, they are framed by a group of rogue Heroes and given life sentences on the Perch. Thunderbolt, the League’s leader, is the only one who can clear their names, but he is missing. To make matters worse, the Vindico are mysteriously let out of prison and a group of strange Shadow people start trailing the teens’ every move. Unsure of who to trust or where to go, the teens put their new skills to the test once more as they fight to save themselves—and their families—from an unknown foe. But how will they defeat an enemy they can not see?
☆: 3/5 stars – a solid follow-up, but not much growth since book 1.
Review: So, I kind of wrestled with this one, guys. I’d been looking forward to “Feros” ever since I heard “Vindico” was getting a second book, but it feels like this book has a bit of middle book syndrome going on. Or so it felt to me. I feel like this one could have been a lot stronger, but King chose avenues where that just didn’t happen. But that’s okay, as this is a really solid sequel to the first book (and my standards can be ridiculous sometimes), and that certainly doesn’t disappoint. If you liked “Vindico”, definitely checkout life after with our heroes in “The Feros”.
The biggest weakness in this book: even though we have a few different kinds of tension, the overall amount of tension in this book compared to book one has a huge dropoff to where it should be for a book two in a series. While I was quite pleased with the inter-group tension between all of our heroes (and within the League itself), I felt that the greater overall antagonist-driven tension could have been amped up a LOT more. As in, someone getting killed. That might have made the situation feel a lot more scary, and a lot more real. What did make me crack up was the fact that Thunderbolt can’t seem to stay unkidnapped by someone for long, which is absolutely hilarious. But overall, I wish there’d been more outside tension, though the inside tension was good.
We do have the kids banding together, wanting to distinguish themselves from the League (and the Vindico), and there’s a lot of in-fighting with crushes and who’s dating whom, so there are some very typical contemporary YA elements to this book to balance out the supernatural. It really brought home the sense that these kids are trying to lead normal lives (just for two more months, until they can join the League – at least before everything goes totally fubar), be normal teens, and try to ignore what has happened to them at the hands of the Vindico for the last few months. That was really refreshing – you don’t get many YA books that once kids are told they have powers, you see them struggle to keep things under wraps and really want that old, normal life back again.
However, another issue I had: we still don’t get to see as much of the kids’ powers as I would have liked. There was also the writing style to contend with – this still felt like a middle grade book, even though I know it’s a YA book. Or it’s supposed to be a YA book. I guess it’s good in the sense that King has made his style accessible to older MG and young YA readers, but generally, I was hoping for a little upgrade in terms of storytelling that would really give this book a YA-feel to things. It also still feels like King can’t quite decide if this is YA or MG – kind of an improvement compared to book one in the style department – but at the same time, I’m not sure if that’s him, or that’s the editor, or if it’s both. Or neither. When you look at writing styles that conflict that way, it’s hard to pinpoint where the problem may lie. It could be that the fact that this book is both plot and character-driven, but the balance between the two is off. Sometimes it’s one more than the other, and that can make for a kind of confusing style within a story. If anything, for me it was a bit frustrating because I wanted King to pick one, or at least balance those two styles of writing.
In terms of outside antagonistic threats, I did love the idea of these phantom ghosts snatching away members of the League and the newly-formed Feros (our heroes’ new team), quite literally from under their noses. I wish that tension had been amped up, as I said before, more than it was, but what we got was very satisfactory, enough to keep us on our toes. However, the problem of telling versus showing still remained within the writing, and while King has improved quite a bit in that department from book one, it still feels like he’s telling us a lot rather than showing. But when he does show things, the sensory language is pretty awesome. I just want more of that in book three – if we’re getting one. I loved all of the visuals we got, especially when the kids were showing off their powers (Hayden was the best in this area – can I have him? Please?), or using them against this phantom threat.
Overall? While it’s still lacking in areas, this is still a very solid followup to book one, and should be given a read. “The Feros” is out now from Penguin in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!