Blaze: Or Love In the Time of Supervillians by Laurie Boyle Crompton
I got this book as an e-ARC from Edelweiss, and wolfed it down in a single afternoon. Why? Read on:
Blaze is, despite the unusual name, a pretty normal 17-year old girl. She’s a little shy, interested in boys in theory but a little more like terrified in practise. She’s also really into comic books: specifically, classic Marvel verse, and anything Stan Lee. Blaze spends most of her free time since her Dad left chauffeuring around her little brother Josh and his three best friends, to school and soccer.
At least at soccer there’s Mark, Josh’s really, really cute coach. He’s never noticed Blaze, which is fine with her. She watches soccer practice with her head in a comic or her sketch book, and if she sometimes daydreams about Mark’s great legs or chest, well, she’s only human.
Then, inexplicably, Mark notices Blaze, who can’t believe her luck! She finally has her first boyfriend – right? They went out a couple of times, and there was an unfortunate incident with a ‘helpful’ ‘friend’ called Amanda sending him a half naked picture of Blaze, but Blaze wan’t sure – until Mark made it clear he wasn’t looking for anything more than the *ahem* interactions they’d had in the back of Blaze’s minivan.
Hurt and humiliated, Blaze uses her talents for revenge, and it works – Mark’s reputation goes from hero to zero. Mark’s not about to let that go unanswered, and he has a plan to get his own back. Blaze doesn’t go unnoticed after that – and all she wants is for everything to go back to how it was before all this mess.
Blaze: Or Love in the Time of Supervillains was interesting for a couple of reasons. I loved the writing style and Blaze’s voice, which incorporated comic book language (Bang! Thwack!) and Blaze’s commentary used every side thought I had while reading, which was hilarious! Crompton has a great insight into a teenage girl’s head, understanding the naivite, hopefulness and capacity for silly choices that a lot of girls her age experience (or, I guess, girls of any age). The narration was the highlight of the novel, for me.
The main storyline followed a fairly well-trodden path in YA. There was a girl meets boy, boy’s a bit of a loser to her, girl clings to hope before being crushed. But I will say that Crompton did a lot with the story, meaning that even when I was fairly certain of what was going to happen, I wanted to follow Blaze there. Also, there was a brush with Comic Con, NY. ‘Nuff said.
I also enjoyed the character sketches in this book – they were beautifully realised, and not one succumbed to being a space filler. The ‘best friends’ were really true to life, warts and all (and by warts I mean borderline betrayal by one of them that’s glossed over by Blaze because what are you gonna do, she’s your best friend?). And the two truckers Blaze meets in the last chapters of the book are peripheral to the story at large but so well created that they may have been my favourite characters of all.
A fun, fast, romp of a read. Nothing too heavy (but certainly nothing too light…) and an excellent way to spend a couple of hours.
How do you find books that use a bit of mixed-media: a comic book sketch here, a poem there?