Sep 15, 2011

Review: Hero Type, by Barry Lyga

Over the past few weeks I've attempted to try reading what the people refer to as "chick lit," fully aware that I'd come to resent myself for such a decision.  I find that the women characters in these novels are borderline insane, with a "MUST.HAVE.EVERYTHING." mentality that I think readers are supposed to find relatable, but I just find laughable.  These novels are so formulaic that I couldn't really find anything to write about, other than they were fast reads and have the potential to increase your self-esteem by virtue of the fact that you are most likely much more respectable than the characters in the novel...except maybe for the "wise old caretaker person" because they will always have you beat. 

Thank goodness I found "Hero Type," a young adult novel that examines different perceptions of the right to free speech and questions what "support" actually means.  In a nutshell, Kevin Ross is a "hero" for saving a fellow student's life, but when he is caught throwing away a magnetic yellow ribbon that signifies supporting the troops, suddenly the entire town is against him.  This leads to a debate on free speech and whether or not tangible items like the flag actually mean anything outside what they're supposed to represent.  

The debate also includes a discussion on what support really means.  What are you actually doing when you put a yellow ribbon, or any other ribbon, on your car?  Are you actually supporting them or are you just showing everyone around you that you support the idea of supporting them?  We live in a world where our newsfeeds pressure us to copy and paste Facebook statuses in order to show our friends that we support this or that cause, but does this accomplish anything? Most people who copy and paste can't even be bothered to craft their own words of support, let alone take the time to volunteer or put together a care package.  I think this is the best argument in the text, because the young adults who read this have spent practically their entire lives in the digital world where passivity takes the place of activity. 

And it's not just about preaching which side is right or wrong.  While during the debate the point of view clearly favors Kevin's discussion of how symbols can be damaged without tarnishing the idea they represent, an interesting dilemma occurs when Kevin has to decide where to draw the line on desecration for fun's sake, allowing the reader to decide for himself what to believe.

I HIGHLY recommend this book; the engaging plot makes it a quick read, but unlike the "chick lit" I subjected myself to, it actually makes you think. 


  1. I am not at all a fan of chick lit. Any that I've read - Atonement, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Devil Wears Prada - I have not been into at all. The worst was after I finished reading Atonement and found out that Ian McEwen has another seven or eight books on The List. Kill me now.

  2. I never could understand the fascination with Atonement. I remember all the Oscar buzz surrounding the movie, but the book was just so...blah to me.