Author: TJ Klune
Publication Date: July 13, 2021
Length: 384 pages
Read Date(s): May 30, 2021 – May 31, 2021
Flash Fire is the explosive sequel to The Extraordinaries by USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!
Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.
***Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing a copy of the book. This review contains my honest thoughts about and reactions to this book.***
This book was fantastic! It was laugh-out-loud funny while also tackling some very heavy material. I could not put it down and ended up staying awake until 3 AM just so I could see how it ended. Now I feel like I need the next book right this minute, and this book hasn’t even come out yet.
The story picked up several months after the end of The Extraordinaries. Nick was adjusting to having a superhero boyfriend, and much of the book explored the development of the boys’ relationship. The author candidly explored the impacts a new relationship can have on the emotional, physical, and social domains of a teenager’s (or a person of any age really) life. The book illustrated the struggle of figuring out what it means to be in love and how to understand and convey those feelings to a partner. The sex talks between Nick and his dad were once again hilarious, but it was also really nice to see Nick and Seth deal openly with their thoughts and hangups about sex. Their relationship was one of the biggest highlights of the book.
I’m not going to talk much about the plot of the book because I don’t want to spoil it. However, I will say the story delivers on the teases from the first book in many big ways. The betrayals that happen were heartbreaking and several scenes where secrets were revealed left me with literal chills. This story adds to a much bigger plot that seems like it will come to an explosive ending, which I’m very excited to read.
In my review of the first book, I critiqued the story’s lack of balance in its approach to the police. The author did a fairly good job of correcting that with this book, but some of it was a bit clunky. Toward the beginning of the book, an entire chapter seemed as if it had been thrown in out of nowhere specifically to have the conversation about the police. The content of the chapter was fine. It just felt like an addition rather than something organic to the story. The rest of the book, however, did a good job of keeping a balance between acknowledging not all police are bad people with the understanding that the system is broken. I also liked that we got to see Nick’s thoughts about the topic and view his growth based on what he learns in the book. It was a good example of what a person should do when confronted with information counter to their viewpoint: process it and learn from it.
I still loved all the characters. Nick was as extra as he has always been, possibly even more so. Seth was adorable, and I enjoyed him being less aloof in this book now that his friends all know his secret. The teamwork aspect of this story added more fun interactions, and Jazz and Gibby were just as delightful to read here as in the first book. Several new additions were made, and all I will say about them is I never knew I needed to read about a drag queen superhero. Until now.
This story tackled a variety of heavy themes and issues while still managing to keep the humor I loved from the first one. As mentioned previously, corruption of the police system and the struggles of a budding relationship are two major focuses. Additionally, the book explores corruption in the media, grief, coping with major breaches of trust, dealing with figuring out one’s future while adapting to major life changes, and the concept of registration for “othered” individuals to protect public safety. It also made me think about the ethics of biomedical experimentation and whether understanding something (like why some people are gay, for instance) could ultimately lead to destroying entire populations of people because the knowledge could lead to a “cure.” All in all, the tone of this story was darker than the first, but it had even more depth to it, as well.
Overall, I love this book and highly recommend it to lovers of superheroes, LGBT romance, and coming of age stories. I also recommend it to everyone else, as well. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and will be impatiently waiting another year for the next book.