________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 23 . . . . February 14, 2014

cover

The Feros.

Wesley King.
New York, NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons (Distributed in Canada by Penguin Canada), 2013.
313 pp., hardcover, $18.00.
ISBN 978-0-399-25655-4.

Subject Headings:
Superheroes-Fiction.
Supervillains-Fiction.
Good and evil-Fiction.
Kidnapping-Fiction.
Science fiction.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Andrew Laudicina.

*** /4

   

excerpt:

"What happened?" James asked quickly.

"We don't know," Hayden said. "Emily and Blue went left, and we went right. We heard the huge boom, though, and then the scream."

"The boom was a grenade or something." Lana explained. It went off over here. But the scream wasn't from us."

"It was Blue," Sam said. "I felt her panic."

"Where are they now?" James asked.

"I can't sense either of them, "he answered quietly.

"We need to search the property," Hayden said. "Together this time."

Two hours later, they gave up their search and started back to the mansion. The sun was just beginning to set, glowing orange on the horizon. No one spoke. Their eyes were all glued to the ground, faces grim. A cold weight had settled into Lana's stomach somewhere along the way.

Emily and Blue were gone.


Now that they are superheroes, four months removed from defeating their former mentors, the Vindico, and saving the world from certain tyranny and doom, James, Hayden, Lana, Emily and Sam are finding it a challenge to settle back into their often underwhelming daily routines of school and home. Most trying of all, however, has been keeping secret their superhero status. Failure to do so could result in imprisonment in the Perch or worse jeopardize their entry into the League of Heroes which is set to take place in two months' time. As a way to bide their time until induction ceremonies, the protégés, who have since named themselves the Feros, organize a reunion. The festivities, however, quickly spoil when League members lay false charges against the teenagers and provoke a battle from which they only narrowly escape. To make matters worse, Emily and a fellow superhero disappear, presumably joining the ranks of missing League members. While they suspect the culprits are the illusive Wraiths, dark figures who have recently been observed lurking in the shadows, the Feros have no way to proceed against this new enemy. Desperate, they decide to retreat to their old stomping grounds (and later League headquarters) where they can access the mainframe computer and hopefully locate the League's leader, Thunderbolt. Complicating their plan is the unexpected release of the Vindico by unknown forces.

      The Feros, even more so than its predecessor, The Vindico, is awash in action and adventure with (depending on how one counts) no fewer than four classes of super-powered foes engaged in open battle. While entertaining, the free-for-all which King unleashes does overwhelm at times, creating havoc for readers' understanding of the story. The sheer number of characters fielded (some of whom possess multiply names and short forms which are interchangeably used) are also easily and often confused, contributing to a sometimes dizzying read.

      King builds nicely upon themes introduced previously in The Vindico. For example, morality, this time around, is used effectively to shake reader's confidence in their heroes and is used also to bring forth the distinction that even villains can admit remorse for past transgressions and work to reform. The Torturer's transformation, while slight, is particularly compelling.

      Although Emily's early capture isolates her for most of the book, it also gives her story more prominence in comparison to the other main protagonists. Readers, however, will be encouraged to know that, among the Feros, no one is wasted. As was routine in The Vindico, each character is given her/his own voice as part of a revolving narrative and, naturally, an important role to play in the overall story. This treatment also extends to the secondary cast although it is (understandably) not as balanced as one would hope. Thunderbolt, in particular, despite occupying the position of leader of the League of Heroes, remains stubbornly illusive. By book's end, however, readers are granted greater access into King's superhero world, including insights into the founding of the League and that which spawned the creation of the Vindico. While this history is brushed upon in the first book, it reveals itself here once more in greater detail (and in spectacular fashion) as part of the current conflict and larger mystery facing the Feros.

      Readers should then not consider the first book in this series required reading. However, those who take a liking to The Feros may be compelled to give The Vindico a try. In such instances, librarians should not hesitate to make the recommendation as both books, in terms of style and structure, are near carbon copies: fast-paced, action infused, and ultimately undeniably entertaining.

Recommended.

Andrew Laudicina, a MLIS graduate from the University of Western Ontario in London, currently resides in Windsor, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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