Author: TJ Klune
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Length: 405 pages
Read Date(s): April 26, 2021 – April 28, 2021
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.
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.