ARC Review – Heat Wave

Hello, everyone! I’m excited to be reviewing Heat Wave, the conclusion to The Extraordinaries trilogy by TJ Klune. I’ve had this ARC for a few months staring me down on my Kindle, and I just couldn’t wait to read it any longer. I love superheroes and queer YA stories, and this series blends those two things together into something completely unforgettable. If you missed my reviews for the first two books, The Extraordinaries and Flash Fire, be sure to check them out too!

Heat Wave is the explosive finale to the thrilling Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!

Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection, and disaster energy to the people of Nova City.

An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash lands into Nick’s home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero in the explosive finale of the thrilling and hilarious Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I adore the first two books in this series so much, and this finale did a great job of wrapping everything up in a satisfying way. I’m a little disappointed that Nick’s journey is over, but it has been one hell of a ride. So, I guess I can’t complain too much. As with the first two, this book made me laugh A LOT, cry, and cringe hard. The writing exuded Klune’s wit and charm, as always, and I never wanted to put the book down.

One of the main things I love about this series is the absolute extra-ness and cringe associated with the comedy. Klune is an absolute master at writing crass humor and scenes that make me so embarrassed for the characters. If you liked the humor and mortifying sex-ed components from the previous books, you will continue to find a lot of enjoyment here, as well. There was a scene between Nick and his dad that included prolonged instruction on enemas, which had me almost rolling on the floor laughing because it was so awkward. I lost count of the number of times the term ‘fecal penis’ was used in this book, and I’m still chuckling and cringing thinking about it now.

This cast of characters was really just perfect. One of my favorite additions from the second book, the drag queen superhero Miss Conduct, was back with a bigger role, and I enjoyed every second of it. Jazz and Gibby were their usual awesome selves and kicked a lot of ass in this book, which was awesome. Seth continued to be the super reliable boyfriend and the rock for Nick to lean on. Their relationship deepened considerably in this book, and it was nice to see them grow as a couple. Of course, there was also Nick, precious Nick. He was still a damn disaster, but I wouldn’t want him any other way. His character arc was probably my favorite in this book because he matured quite a bit without losing any of his flair for the dramatic. He struggled to accept his new reality of the things he found out about himself in the second book and really learned what it means to be a hero. He faced a lot of obstacles, internal and external, but ultimately he prevailed by rejecting the need for vengeance and relying on those around him who loved him.

I’m not going to say much about the plot because of spoilers, but the second half of this book really kicked things into high gear. There were some epic fights and showdowns that had me reading frantically to see what was going to happen. The first half of the book, though, was a bit weaker. There were still plenty of great moments, but it all felt a bit aimless. There was something happening that the reader was aware of but the characters weren’t, and it took way too long for the characters to find out. It felt like a drag on the entire first half of the story, and once they found out it seemed kind of pointless. It didn’t ruin the book for me; I just think that aspect of the story could have been tightened up considerably.

I also really loved all of the social and political commentary in the book. It got a bit heavy handed and preachy a couple of times, but even then it didn’t feel out of place for the characters to say or think those things. A bunch of topics were tackled, including police brutality, body image issues, and the role of prejudice and fear in the rise of fascism, among others. While the delivery wasn’t always perfect, I appreciated Klune’s willingness to confront such important topics and his ability to make them fun to read about while showcasing important lessons.

The main heart of this novel was the parent-child relationship. The relationship between Nick and his Dad has been front and center throughout this series, and this book was no different. I have enjoyed seeing their frank, open relationship because that isn’t something I often see in YA books. In a lot of YA lit, parents are usually absent, dead, or neglectful to some degree. So, it has been refreshing to to see Nick’s dad be there for the ups and downs, even though he has been far from perfect over the course of the series. This book took it even further and made the parents of the other kids a huge part too. The dads even came together to form the Dad Squad, which was one of the most hilarious things ever.

Overall, if you are looking for a hilarious, heartfelt story about teen superheroes who are queer AF, then this is the series for you. Despite being a bit rocky in the first half, this book pulled off a fantastic finale that brought the story full circle and allowed the characters to learn some important lessons about themselves, the people they care about, and the world around them. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Book Review – The Extraordinaries

Author: TJ Klune

Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Length: 405 pages

Read Date(s): April 26, 2021 – April 28, 2021


Goodreads Synopsis

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.

My Review

I love almost everything about this book. I picked it up because I enjoyed one of TJ Klune’s other books, The House in the Cerulean Sea. It is nothing like that book (other than having great queer rep), but it turned out to be everything I never knew I needed. A wide range of fantastic queer characters? Check. Cool superheroes? Check. A beautiful coming of age story? Check. Hilarious teen angst with a side of romance? Check and check. The story just has so much going for it.

My favorite thing about this book is its humor. I laughed throughout the entire story because of the author’s wit and the book’s hilarious dialogue. I was hooked on the tone and writing style from the very first chapter. I loved all the pop culture and comic book references sprinkled throughout the text. The entire book felt like I was inside the head of a queer, teenage boy with severe ADHD. So, kudos to the author for making the book not only funny but also real.

The book wasn’t all fun and games, though. It tackled a few very serious topics, including grief, living with a mental illness, and learning to accept yourself the way you are, among others. Overall, I think it handled each of these topics with care while using humor to make them feel less heavy. I particularly enjoyed following the main character’s struggle with wanting to change himself, and the antics he engages in while attempting to make the changes are quite ludicrous and fun to read.

The characters in this book really shined. Nick was an absolute disaster of a human in all the best ways. He was loud, tangential, and self-absorbed while also being loving, hilarious, and much more than meets the eye. His friends were great too and added a lot of fun diversity to the book. Gibby and Jazz provided excellent snark to counter Nick’s ridiculousness. Additionally, I was particularly excited to meet Seth, who rounds out this crew with excellent bi male representation. I enjoyed the complexity of Nick’s father and his relationship with Nick, and their sex talks were one of the most hilarious parts of the book.

Despite loving this book, there was one thing I did not like. The book devoted a great deal of time to police because Nick’s father was a police officer. Overall, I think the book did a fantastic job of portraying what it is like to love someone who is an officer. Nick clearly idolizes his father, but I think the book could have done a little more to take a balanced approach to the police, especially since the book attempts to tackle the topic of police brutality. I don’t think the author did a terrible job with it, but there was one joke, in particular, about police brutality that really shouldn’t have been there. The author did a good job of humanizing the police, but I would have liked to see more of a critique of the system, as well.

Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to fans of superheroes, teen angst, and queer romance. I hope the author does more to critique the police with the next book while keeping all of the elements I loved about this story. I can’t wait to read the next book. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.