Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines.
All she wants is for Mark the Soccer Stud to notice her. Not as Josh's weird sister who drives a turd-brown minivan. And not as that nerdy girl who draws comics.
What she gets is her very own arch-nemesis.
Name: Mark Deninger, aka Mark the Shark
Occupation: Soccer star and all-around lady killer
Relationship Status: Serial dater
Group Affiliation: No loyalty
Known Superpowers: Anti-girlfriend force field, breaking hearts
Mark may have humiliated Blaze supervillian-style, but what he doesn't know is how geek girls always get revenge.
About the Author
When she was 17, LAURIE BOYLE CROMPTON painted her first car hot pink using 40 cans of spray paint. This turned her into an overnight icon in Butler, PA. She now lives near NYC in Queens, but maintains a secret identity in New Paltz, NY where she and her family can often be found tromping through the forest. Visit www.lboylecrompton.com
Read an Excerpt
Hear me X-Men! No longer am I the woman you knew!
I am FIRE! And LIFE INCARNATE!
Now and forever... I am PHOENIX!
-Jean Grey, The Uncanny X-Men #138
I am soaring free.
My astonishing future hurtles toward me with supernova force.
The open road ahead is bursting with the promise of All New Adventures! and the wind Whooshes! with the sound of...
"Fire in the hole!"
"Oh my God! A-jay!"
The groans hit me a split-second before the stench, and Bampf! I remember: That's right. Soaring free isn't really my thing.
My thing is driving my thirteen-year-old brother, Josh, and his friends around in a turd-brown minivan. I am the eternal chauffeur to a gang of Soccer Cretins. Make that totally-disgusting Soccer Cretins with reeking emissions issues.
"Dude, you should see a doctor or something," Andrew calls from the back, his voice muffled through the T-shirt held over his nose. "That is totally not normal."
I glance in the rearview mirror and see Ajay look up from his perpetual video game to smile proudly. "You guys like that one?"
Josh sucker punches Ajay, and the two of them start wrestling in the seat behind me. Bash! Block! Kick!
Over his T-shirt-mask, Andrew catches my eye in the mirror and we share a look of hopelessness.
Meanwhile, the horny freak to my right is busy ogling my cleavage. Again. I take a hand off the steering wheel to yank up my T-shirt's neckline. "Dylan, if you don't stop staring at my rack you're never sitting shotgun again."
Josh immediately stops his backseat battle with Ajay and leans forward to cuff Dylan's shaved head with his palm. "Dude! That's my sister."
"Ow! I was looking at the dashboard," Dylan lies as he adjusts his glasses. "Just checking how much gas we've used."
Josh, Andrew, Ajay, and I respond with a sarcastic harmony of, "Riiiight," and, "Sure," and, "We believe you."
Dylan scrambles to make his lie more elaborate by blaming all of global warming on the lousy gas mileage of my 2002 Grand Caravan: the mild-mannered minivan also known as the Subatomic Superturd of Steel.
I lean further out the window. The jolt of fresh air is a welcome change from the toxic cloud festering inside the minivan. Plus, it helps erase the sense that I've just been violated by Dylan's vulgar mind. Please do not let me have a starring role in some near-future wet dream.
I try imagining a superpower that would reduce my attractiveness to pubescent boys, while inversely making me more alluring to über-hotties like the cretins' coach, Mark. Putting out is likely the missing plutonium to that puzzle. I am, after all, the Amazing Su-per Virgin Girl! Fully flowered! With chastity of steel!
Not that I'm all that virtuous. It's pretty easy to say no when no one's even asking for it. I never took a vow of purity, but I have a nun's reputation anyway. It hasn't done much for my ability to snag a boyfriend, but I don't really want to use all my time and energy working on a sluttier image.
My dad gave me a cool name, Blaze, but my life is so unexciting that my name is more ironic than the soccer ball magnet I stuck on the back of my minivan-my failed attempt to create visual irony. The universal soccer mom badge suits me too well to be ironic.
I finally pull Superturd into the parking lot, where all the other minivans are wearing their soccer-ball magnets in a non-ironic manner. I've barely screeched to a total stop before the boys are evacuating through the sliding doors and thundering toward the field.
In my head, I commission them, I bid thee, go forth, Mighty Cretins!
Josh, the Nuclear Dynamo! Greet your destiny of triumph with your superstar soccer skills. There isn't a twerpy little brother alive that I'd rather be driving all over green creation.
Dylan, the Colossal Hormone! May your lewd glances be reciprocated by the sideline MILFs on this fine day.
Godspeed to you, Andrew, the small but swift Galactic Goalie! Never has there existed a thirteen-year-old so above the immature fart jokes that surround thee.
And dear Ajay, the Ozone Destroyer! What can I say, aside from: Thank God you are clearing the hell outta my minivan before the seats melt.
As usual, once the Mighty Cretins have cleared, I pull my faded pink beach chair out of Superturd's back end, grab my messenger bag covered in superhero pins, and make my way over to the field. After setting myself up on the sidelines, a bit removed from the cluster of overly aggressive parents, I put on my mirrored sunglasses to scan the field.
I quickly spot Mark, and everything else fades into background.
He strides easily across the field with a net sack filled with yellow soccer balls slung over one shoulder. I focus on the one bouncing playfully against his butt. Man, how I'd love to be that soccer ball.
Mark embodies the single wonder in my dismal pseudo-soccer-mom life. His taking over the team last spring was like a wish granted for my seventeenth birthday. A wish that was too fantastic for me to even think it up on my own. He and I go to the same school, but we may as well inhabit separate universes. Our lives are so different, it's like I'm stuck with Batman and Superman in the DC World, while Mark is partying in the Marvel Universe with every other worthwhile character. That's right. I said it: Make mine Marvel.
Mark wears a faded blue baseball cap over his dark curly hair and a gray Wolverine team shirt. The odds of him taking that shirt off are lessened by the cooling weather, which is quite tragic considering his spectacular abs.
In private, I've sketched him from every imaginable angle. Looking now at his strong legs, lined with muscles and covered with dark hair, I let myself wonder about what lies further up, under his thin white soccer shorts. Due to my Su-per Virgin Girl! alter-ego, I'm quite unfamiliar with that territory. That is, aside from a traumatizing walk-in on Josh peeing that shall never be mentioned again. To be totally honest, I'm mildly terrified of penises. (Or would that plural be peni?) Either way, the lump in Mark's shorts doesn't move as he strides across the even grass to shake hands with the other team's coach. The other coach is cute enough, yet I find I'm not the slightest bit curious what his penis looks like.
TWEEEET! The whistle sounds, signaling the start of the game. With a sigh, I flick my white-blonde ponytail behind one shoulder and pull my sketchpad out of my messenger bag. I take a quick inventory of the vintage comics I packed. There is nothing more awesome than good, old-fashioned, superhero-versus-bad-guy comic books. The classic ones where you can actually read a whole plot in five issues and one sitting. I'm not so into the current darkly stylized ones, and I don't much care for graphic novels or manga, but retro comics really turn me on.
Today, I have two Iron Mans, a Silver Surfer, and a Daredevil packed carefully in their individual Mylar sleeves. I have to take precautions to keep them in mint condition, since they're from the massive collection my dad left when he teleported his life to Manhattan.
My regular soccer sideline routine is to sketch my own comics until the game is nearly over and then lose myself in the superhero stories. Opening my sketchpad, I flip to an empty page filled with endless possibilities.
"Blaze!" At the sound of my name, I look up and see a soccer ball heading straight for my head. My sketchpad slides off my lap as I instinctively half-stand to catch the ball.
The catch stings my shoulder. Rubbing it, I see Mark jogging lightly toward me. Before I can move, he's directly in front of me, easing the ball out of my hand. His proximity is exhilarating, plus I'm grateful I don't need to demonstrate my awkward ball-throwing technique.
I'm hypnotized by his smiling gray eyes, which are amplified by his gray shirt. "Nice reflexes," he says, and my insides give a twitch.
"You should see me throw." I grin, making a mental note to never let Mark see me throw.
He raises his eyebrows appreciatively, and sonic vibrations run through me. Mark turns to throw the ball gracefully to Josh, but before rejoining the action he gives me another look. Dipping his head, he mouths, "Thanks," in a way that is so hot I have to sit down in my pink folding chair before I lose consciousness. Eep!
Mark seems to have some unnamable quality that tunes my whole body to a higher frequency. Like Peter Parker's Spidey Sense, except with a whole different sort of tingling. What can I say? That boy just does it for me.
It takes a few moments before I'm able to refocus my attention back on my sketching, and even then, I draw a few accidental hearts in the margins before calming down enough to get back to work on my comic.
I've always liked doodling, but I didn't start drawing comics of my own until after I read through Dad's entire stash. The collection is stored in six huge boxes in our basement and includes most of the main Marvel characters from their origins up to the tail end of the 1980s. It's almost as if Dad left those boxes of comics behind on purpose. Like he was handing me a message that said he'd never forget about me and would come soaring back if I ever really needed him.
I suppose sketching is my silly way of trying to answer him back. Of letting him know I understand.
This one time, I even mailed a few sheets of my drawings to him in New York. They featured Ice Girl, my first attempt at creating my own superhero. She's a little shy, but seriously kicks butt with her ability to freeze and smash any bad guy that comes her way. I designed her with large breasts, like the super-chicks from the '80s, but I couldn't draw hands yet so Ice Girl flies with her arms behind her back. Which makes it look as if her boobs are her source of power. It probably made Dad wonder about me being gay or something, but I put a lot of time into drawing the comic panels I sent him and I liked how they came out.
Dad usually talks to me and Josh on the phone every few months or so, but he never did say anything about what he thought of Ice Girl. I figure he just forgot about it, or else it got lost in the mail. Or maybe she's just so totally lame he didn't want to hurt my feelings. I never bothered bringing it up.
Thankfully, I've moved past creating cheesy superheroes with porn-star breasts, and now most of my comics focus on a character who looks and talks and acts pretty much exactly like I do. Or how I would act if I wasn't such a geek, anyway. Plus she has telekinetic powers and mad skills with a dominatrix whip. Oh yes, and she has this ultra-cool hot-pink Mustang that Zooms! through the air, instead of a turd-brown soccer mom minivan.
I call her the Blazing Goddess and sometimes Blaze for short because, hey, my life may pretty much suck, but my name is still amazing.
What People are Saying About This
"Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) is at turns funny, cringe•worthy and heartbreaking . . . Don't miss out." - RT Book Reviews
"First-time novelist Crompton handily establishes Blaze as a diehard comics fan who's not entirely comfortable in her own skin; her funny-crass interactions with her friends and her younger brother make for entertaining reading . . .the novel forces readers to reconsider the way they treat their peers, especially girls, over their sexual behavior, real or imagined." - Publishers Weekly
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Blaze’s life is pretty ho-hum. She spends most of her free time bussing her little brother and his friends back and forth to soccer practice and games in her brown minivan she’s lovingly named “Superturd”. She has a couple of friends, and goes through the motions at school as someone nobody pays much attention to — not even Mark, a fellow classmate, the coach of her brother’s soccer team and the guy Blaze has a mad crush on. The one thing Blaze is passionate about is comic books. She’s a Marvel girl and knows them backward and forward. She even has her own character, The Blazing Goddess, that she draws during her down time. When Mark asks for a ride after one of the soccer games, Blaze finally gets the chance to spend some time with him, and when he asks her out, she is over the moon. But after Blaze gives up her V-card, the Superman of her dreams turns into more of a Super-a@#$. What’s a girl to do? Write a comic about his skeezie ways and distribute it online and around school of course. But when the revenge plan backfires, Blaze finds herself wishing she could go back to being the invisible girl she once was. This is a contemporary novel, and takes place in a small Pennsylvania town that could really be anywhere. It feels familiar and relatable. The small-town vibe works really well with Blaze’s desire to be something bigger. It’s also a nice contrast to Blaze’s larger than life, comic-inspired voice. I loved Blaze. She was funny, a non-conformer, a bit self-deprecating and had a huge heart. I was 100% invested in her and her story. She grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go. I also liked that each of the characters (and there were a lot of them) were distinct and served a purpose. Josh, Blaze’s little brother, and his friends, were your typical, rowdy, horny fourteen-year-olds. Teri and Amanda, Blaze’s friends each had their own personality and role in the story that helped define Blaze. Mark, the d*#$ of the decade, was especially charming and hot in the beginning, but you know he’s up to no good. Ms. Crompton’s writing is excellent. She captured Blaze’s voice perfectly and I love how she infused it with lots of comic book inspired lingo. It was totally authentic. She definitely has a unique style, and I loved it. The ARC I read was an electronic version and I noticed several grey boxes that obviously were meant to hold something. About halfway through the book, I knew I loved it enough that I wanted my own copy, so I ordered one. When I got it, I was pleased to see that those holding boxes were placeholders for comic art. The art is fantastic and adds an even deeper layer to the story. The only thing that I struggled with was the amount of bullying Blaze receives after her revenge plan goes wrong. I’ve seen something similar happen before, but it didn’t end up quite as bad as it did with Blaze. In the book, it seems that pretty much everyone — even people she’d never met — were suddenly hating on her in extreme ways. I just didn’t feel like it would have gone THAT far. Fresh, funny and a great read, Blaze is the perfect book for contemporary fans. It’s well-balanced with plenty of humor, heartache and romance to please everyone. Even if you’re not a comic book geek, you’ll get a kick out of this one. Highly recommended!
Its a great life lesson that you should always think before you post :would you want your grandmother to see it
This book was really great to read and the main character is also pretty kick ass (how awesome is the name Blaze)! This book was really empowering and had some really strong messages while at tbe same time channeling a humorous tone. Plus a little comic book geekines never hurt anyone! I recomend this book to everyone who wants a quick and funny read becaise this book is just awesome.s
I was SO excited to get this book as an ARC to read it! When I read the synopsis, I knew this was one that I had to have! So… I couldn’t wait to dig in and read it. And, the book did not disappoint! Blaze is great. She kind of reminds me of me at that age. Yes, I drove a minivan around in high school. My friends dubbed it the Mystery Machine. I even got to drive it in college. I was that cool! I wasn’t in the cool clique. But I wasn’t in the nerd group either. I was a little unique and definitely a bookworm. Anyway, back to the book…. I loved the story… Such a great, fun read! Blaze, obviously, took my heart, and her little brother kinda reminded me of mine as well. Yep, this is one to pick up and read.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Edelweiss.) 17-year-old Blaze is sick of being a soccer mom. While her mother works long hours at the hospital, it’s left to Blaze to drive around her younger brother and his friends in a brown minivan, when she’d rather be spending time working on her comic books. The only good thing about driving her brother to his soccer matches is that his coach Mark is hot, really hot, and when he starts flirting with her, Blaze can’t help but be excited. Blaze’s younger brother Josh says that Mark is a player, but Blaze can’t help but feel like he really likes her. Does Mark really like Blaze? How long will Blaze have to continue being a soccer mom? And will her dreams of publishing her own comic book ever come true? This was an okay story, it was an interesting mix of romance and comic books, and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for Blaze. Although you couldn’t describe Blaze as being selfless, she really did do a hell of a lot of stuff for other people, and she even helped those who weren’t exactly nice to her. I hated Blaze’s dad, who basically didn’t give a poo about her or her brother, and Mark was an utter turd. Whilst Blaze’s mother could at least claim that she was working to put food on the table, her father barely spoke to her unless he wanted something, and had basically just walked out on all of them. He definitely deserved what he got in the end. Mark was a total turd. The way he initially seduced Blaze, and then just totally ignored her annoyed the hell out of me and I really wanted to just punch him or something. Absolute turd! The storyline in this book was okay. I can’t say I’m really all that interested in comic books at all, but Blaze was obviously pretty passionate about them. I liked that she had something that she loved, and something that she could focus on to get away from all the other poo she had to deal with in her life. At least she got some revenge as well in the end, although Mark could have done with having ‘Turd’ tattooed on his forehead as a warning to other girls. Oh, and parents – there is a sex scene in this one. Nothing graphic as such, but it’s there, and it’s not a loving sex scene either, it’s more a warning to not do it with someone who doesn’t love you. Overall; an interesting mix of romance, and comic books. 6.5 out of 10.
When I first wanted to read Blaze, it had been when I was trying to find novels in the YA universe that involve a) Superheroes or b) Supervillains. Blaze had been the first thing I found and after reading the synopsis, I instantly knew that I wanted to read the story. Sure it sounded like the main character wouldn’t be adorning a cape and mask, but it still sounded like an interesting read. Who doesn’t want an MC (main character) who loves comic books during her teen years and draws them for sport, while crushing on a super hot guy? Blaze is told from the first person perspective of Blaze (named after the first Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze). Blaze’s life consists of playing soccer mom for her younger brother and his friends, her Dad left to become an actor and her mother hasn’t exactly been playing the motherly role all that great. Blaze is the glue that holds her family together, she’s the good girl daughter that all parents want and everything in her life is average—until she takes the soccer star Mark (a.k.a. her brother’s soccer coach) for a ride in her car and finds herself falling for him bad. That’s not even the start of it, Blaze and Mark’s relationship grows intense and when his interest in her dwindles, Blaze’s best friend does something overly stupid; She sexts Mark a picture of Blaze wearing slutty lingerie. Then BANG! Like something out of a Nicki Minaj song, Blaze loses her virginity to Mark in the back of her mini-van and learns that he was never really a relationship type of guy: That he only loves ‘em and leaves ‘em. In an act of revenge, Blaze creates a comic parody of her relationship with Mark, portraying him as an evil villain (“Mark the Shark”) and herself as the hero (“The Blazing Goddess”). Mark retaliates, leading Blaze to bullying and you’re left to wonder: Can a teenage girl become a superhero and save her social status and, perhaps, her own life? Blaze was a story that I’ve gotta admit, I personally liked a lot. As a character, I thought Blaze was funny and somebody that I could relate to when it came to her love of comics. I’m going to get nerdy on you for a moment and just say that when it came to her adoration for the Golden Age comics, I had to shake my head. I prefer the 80’s to present, the artwork is way better and gives a better feel. Just saying. As for Blaze constantly slamming DC comics and Batman (blasphemer!), all I’ve gotta say on the topic is that… Batman beat the Incredible Hulk and beat Superman at the age of fifty. Do it DC. Back to the actual review portion, Blaze does know her stuff when it comes to comics. She knows exact issue dates and ERMAGERD BATMAN the novel actually starts with the Phoenix quote from the Uncanny X-men comics when Jean Grey returns as Phoenix. Just pure awesome. The only problem that I did have with Blaze was her obsession with Mark, I suppose there really are girls who will give a guy anything to keep him with them… but seriously losing your virginity to a guy in a mini-van on like the second date? That just came off as plain stupid. Plus, Blaze does think some pretty… weird and sexual stuff… that I personally got uncomfortable with. But, maybe that’s just me. When Blaze does become a target for bullying, I did think a lot of the sudden rise of suicides that are all over the media. What Blaze has to go through is pretty insane and I felt really sorry for her when I read the novel and had to suffer through the bullying with her. It was not fun and felt so realistic. All I want to know is: Will there be a sequel? Blaze is a novel that I would recommend to my fellow comic readers, readers who want a dramatic story and fans of shows like Gossip Girl.
'Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)' is a really fun teen read that follows Blaze - a high school girl who feels invisible in school - always by herself, drawing comics and living a boring life. She has a huge crush on a soccer player from school named Mark, but he doesn't even know she exists. Then, Mark gets a picture of Blaze in sexy nightwear and suddenly he's definitely aware of her. They go on a hot date and Blaze is feeling great. Just as suddenly as Mark notices her, he goes the complete opposite direction and dumps her for no reason. Blaze puts all of her hurt and anger into one of her comic strips - featuring Mark as the villain. Mark then gets revenge by posting her "sext" all over the place and Blaze is suddenly the school's newest slut. Blaze never thought that she would actually wish for her invisible existence, but it seems very enticing now. This was a really fun and realistic teen novel. Blaze is a great main character. She's bright, witty, definitely sarcastic at times, but also has an innocent and sweet side. She's the quintessential teen girl in almost every way. The reader can easily connect with her because we've all felt invisible in life before. The story is written very well and done with a great insight into teenage thinking and life. The story is a classic one - the innocent girl getting caught in whirlwind of hurt feelings and revenge created by her classmates. This story gives the tale an original twist by having the main character be artistic - Blaze's comics really mean a lot to her and help her cope with her feelings during the entire debacle. Another modern twist that the author gives to the story is the whole "sexting" issue. This is a hot topic among teens today - the sending of sexual pictures via the Internet or phones. It's not hard to imagine that this story could actually happen to someone these days. It's a cautionary tale as well as one that speaks of believing in oneself, standing up for what's right, doing the right thing, and knowing the boundaries in life. There are a ton of great messages for the readers throughout the story - we need to empathize with Blaze during the terrible things that happen and we also need to learn from her mistakes. Overall, this was an inventive and fun contemporary novel that teens of all ages will thoroughly enjoy. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the kind of book that's slow to warm up. It takes some time for this book to get into the heart of the story. In this time period, Blaze succeeded in losing my support. She's a naïve girl who consistently succeeds in ignoring the signs of people's true intentions while simultaneously misinterpreting a smile or a kind word as a sign that a guy's into her. It doesn't matter that the sext photo really gets Mark's attention. She thinks that everything will be all right if only he'd date her. Really, Blaze? Really? I know that she wasn't specifically asking for it, but she seemed pretty happy even after she did it with Mark. Her reaction afterwards, getting revenge, is a bit over the top, especially since she can't expect Mark not to retaliate. Yes, she does want to use the comic strip to warn other girls about Mark's true character, but she would've known if she only listened to her brother. Still, this is a story that blurs all the lines of good and evil. Blaze is a vintage comic nerd, and the book is sprinkled with lines from different comics, which serve to contrast fantasy with reality. In comic books, we know who the superheros are, but in real life we often need to dig ourselves into holes before we know who we can rely on. Blaze starts off with some resentment towards the boys for having to drive them around like a soccer mom at her age, but they prove to have some character within them. There's also Quentin, the fellow comic nerd with a good heart (and who didn't appear in this book nearly enough). Mark himself seems like a chill guy until he pulls his moves on Blaze and exacts his own revenge on her (in return for the comic strips). Even then, it's apparent that he too has been a victim of sorts and may have his own demons to deal with. This is a story about a turning point in Blaze's life, and she transforms much over the course of the novel--into a young woman that I could somewhat respect. To top it off, she's got a lot of guts and wits inside. I do wish that we got to see more development of the other characters, especially Blaze's relationship with her family and closer friends. We don't get to see much of the other characters excepting occasions where they play a role in what Blaze is going through at the moment. If we didn't get to see more of the other characters, at least Crompton knows where to place them, be it to deal the most hurt to Blaze or to make the most of a situation to help Blaze mature and learn from her experiences. I especially love the comic strips and illustrations in the book. They're awesome. Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) is about the dangers of the media and social networks, bullying, and the damaging effects of gossip. Despite being a super Virgin Girl and out of the general social loop, Blaze finds herself admitting that she never stopped to question what she heard, and she took pleasure in reveling that she isn't like some of the kids in the lower rungs of the social ladder. It hurts when the world turns against her and she learns about the truth behind some of the characters at her school, but it's a learning experience and Blaze ends up shining like the name that her father gave her. Yes, I'd recommend this book--with a warning that you might not like Blaze very much at the beginning, but she does mature in the end.
Simple, yet riveting, Blaze should be on everyone's to-be-read piles and wishlists! Laurie Boyle Crompton has written an amazing debut full of teen angst, girl-power and geek fandom! Blaze is a 17-year-old comic-book-geek girly-girl who is smart, snark-y and has a huge heart. Her father has taken off to NYC to pursue his acting career which has left her mother a bit bitter and overworked, so Blaze has had to step-up, pitch-in and play "soccer mom" to her 13-year-old brother and his friends. Since most of her free time is taken up by her brother's soccer practices and games, she spends the time reading her comic books, working on her own comic book stories starring Blazing Goddess, her alter-ego, and dreaming about Mark the soccer coach. And then one day, Mark acknowledges Blaze's existence and Blaze's crush soars into space and she is determined to do whatever it takes to make Mark her boyfriend. While out shopping one day with her friends, Blaze is trying to get their advice as to what she should do to get Mark to realize that she is the one he wants as his girlfriend; in the spur of the moment, her bestie snaps an unforgettable cell phone picture and sends it off to Mark. Of course she has his attention now.... And then she learns, that being super-geeky-boring girl wasn't so bad after all. Well, this book brought back all kinds of high school memories. Although, thank goodness, I never went through any of the bad stuff that Blaze had to endure, I do remember what it was like to have a crush and feel like it would be the end of the world if I couldn't make him mine. Even in my old age now, it is an indescribable feeling to have such a strong need to want someone to like you back as much as you think you like them. You barely know the person, personally. Yes, you see what he likes/dislikes in school, know his schedule by heart, who he's friends with, etc. But you don't really know his personality, what he's like at home, his family, etc. But for some odd reason, you just don't care. He's cute, you like him and no one can convince you otherwise. The things that some girls will go through to prove that they are worthy of a boys attention is heartbreaking. I love Laurie's writing style; Blazes personality shines through - I felt her loneliness, anger, hurt, snark. I loved every single time she geeked-out about comic books and that she used her talent to release her feelings. I adored the way she and her brother, Josh, cared and took care of each other - the relationship that they both had with Josh's friends was amazing and so genuine. I loved how they kidded around with each other, but mostly, how these group of boys looked up to Blaze like she was their big sister too. Plus, all of the comic book mentions (Blaze is a hardcore Marvel fan!) were so fitting and perfect! The ARC did not have any of the illustrations, so I'm sure that with the artwork included this book would easily become a 5-star rating for me. A definite must read for all booknerds, geeks, comic book hero fans and more! Can't wait to get my hands on a finished copy!
I'm kind of into superheroes (a bit - mostly Batman) although I never really became involved with comics, oddly enough. I've been saying for a little while that I'd really love to read some more superhero-inspired YA (I think there's a lot of untapped potential there - just saying!) and it was this aspect that initially drew my attention with Blaze. Blaze isn't exactly a superhero book, but it plays a big part in the plot. This ends up making Blaze a truly fun and unique contemporary that I think is going to have plenty of widespread appeal with all kinds of readers! Reasons to Read: 1. Laugh out loud, tongue-in-cheek humour: I find funny books to be a rarity; but that may just be that I have an extremely particular sense of humour. I love really dry wit, and Blaze's sense of humour just fit so well with mine that I couldn't help but laugh along. Plus, I thought it was fantastic how she relied on humour in difficult times - I have friends like that, and I sometimes do the same thing and I think it was really neat to see a character who could crack a joke at any time. 2. Real perspective on gossip/reputation: Laurie handles these prevalent teen issues with ease in Blaze but without becoming too "heavy" and without preaching. It becomes so obvious how dangerous and hurtful cruel, thoughtless comments about other people can be. I love that it isn't focused on figuring out who's the victim and who's the villain, but recognizes that all people need to be treated with dignity and respect. And all of this is accomplished in a way that readers will relate to. 3. A unique format for a YA book: One of my favourite aspects of Blaze is that it really utilizes Blaze's love of comics (and her talent as an artist) as one of the ways to immerse the reader in the story. The included illustrations in the book are done by an incredible artist - and while my ARC didn't contain the illustrations, I was able to get an inside look at some of the art for the novel through the Sourcebooks blog tour. I LOVED the way that the illustrations are included with the story, to help bring it to life. It's a really fun way of presenting the story. You can find a sneak peek of the artwork here. (Includes Mark the Shark and the Blazing Goddess) I only wish that the consequences for some of the poor choices made had been highlighted a bit better; there are a number of events which take place that many teens will experience (such as sexting, relationships, and gossip) but I don't think the outcome was as convincing as it could have been. Everyone largely comes out unscathed, and I don't mind that overall but I wish that some of these problems weren't as easily to solve as they came across in the book. But this is a fun book, that's going to appeal to a broad range of readers - those who enjoy contemporary, humour, illustrations and artwork, and even superheroes/comics will find something to appreciate in Blaze. ARC received from publisher for blog tour & review; no other compensation was received.