July 18 2021
Flash Fire, by TJ Klune
Title: Flash fire
Author: TJ Klune
Genre/ issues: Superheroes. Science fiction. Queer fiction.
I enjoyed The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune last year, so much so that I preordered the sequel- an honour usually reserved for Neil! The above quote from the sequel, Flash Fire, encapsulates for me how I feel about this series. I really enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to book 3. But there are times when I’m jarringly reminded that I’m probably not the target audience.
But I digress. Book 1 introduced us to Nick, who is obsessed by the extraordinaries in Nova City and writes a racy fanfic about PyroStorm, before discovering that he knows the superhero better than he realises! Book 2 sees us explore the developing relationships between both partners and parents, as well as some added complications. New extraordinaries arrive in the city, and figuring out who and what you can trust is a mammoth task, as Nick faces challenges to everything he knows about justice, family, and being extraordinary.
So, the good. Diverse and authentic representation of queer characters, and nuanced discussions of issues such as race and abuse of power in policing. Whilst the superpower plot raises questions that seem larger-than-life, the intimate and personal struggles of these wonderful characters really hooked me, despite some of the problems I had with it otherwise.
Ok, “problems” might be too strong a word. And I’m not bagging fan-fiction, but it’s just not my jam. So the framing of this book around the ongoing fanfic by Nick to his Extraordinary crush just did not hit for me. Don’t get me wrong – it ABSOLUTELY works for the book, the narrative and the character. As a reflection of a gay neurodivergent Nick obsessed with PyroStorm it’s perfection. So, my issues with it should be notched up to my own personal reading preferences, and not as an indication that this is badly written, because that’s not the case. TJ Klune is a fantastic author who skilfully creates unique and interesting characters that you care deeply about. Their writing is also clever, sensitive and smart, and one of the new Extraordinaries we meet in this book has a backstory and name that made me squeal with joy. More new adult than young adult, it’s a really fun read.