The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune // Book Review

If you’re the type of person who’s been waiting to be a Sailor Solider since you were 15 years old, then this is the book for you. Because I was that girl who stood on my parents bed watching Sailor Moon every afternoon and pretending that my magic pen will transform me into an evil-fighting superhero.

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Doesn’t every nerdy person go through this phase of their life? I might still be going through this phase. Just waiting for a black cat with a crescent on her forehead to tell me I’m the descendants of moon people and I’m a princess.

The Extraordinaries is that life except in a world where superheroes actually exist. The story of a young kid named Nick Bell who truly wants to be like his favorite superheroes, extraordinary. If you’ve ever wanted to be a superhero as a kid, then you will resonate so hard with this book. But the one difference is that Nick Bell isn’t extraordinary. He’s just…ordinary. Well, ordinary as can be.

This is my first TJ Klune and I’m impressed beyond impressed. I loved the inclusion in this story. When Klune said he wanted to write stories representing queerness accurately and positively, he most definitely delivered. This story was all about queer joy; having a father who accepts you wholeheartedly, having a friend group who also represents facets of the LGBTQIA+ community, being yourself without the disguises or the masks, feeling freedom to be goofy or fun or serious. Aside from a few comments on Nick’s fan-fiction being “too gay,” it really felt like this world TJ Klune built was made for everyone. Honestly, it felt like Nova City didn’t even know what “hetero-normative” means.

And the story was so interesting. Nick was so intent on becoming an Extraordinary. He considered microwaving crickets and jumped into a river of raw sewage in hopes of it transforming his body. This was the main plot of the story, but not the only thing happening. I loved the hard conversations on what it means to be a superhero; the number of crimes you have to fight against and still being persecuted as a vigilante who does more harm than good. I loved that this story wasn’t just a die-hard fan wanting to be a superhero, but really talks about the consequences and hardships of being a superhero as well. In so many ways we all hope to have magic, but as we all know, magic always comes with a price.

There were so many moments when I was laughing my butt off. The laughable moments reminded me of when I was a teenager and trying to navigate the ordinaryness of life while hoping to become something extraordinary. The serious moments were very serious. I listened to this book on audio and even the narrator does justice to these scenes making sure to lower the volume of his voice, sound somber as Nick reminisced about his mother.

There were also so many cringe-worthy teenager moments that reverted me back to my 16-year-old self. It was all the nostalgia of being a big ass nerd with my close friend group and truly believing that I can become a superhero. Ugh, even his nervousness with finally being in front of his crush, Shadow Star, was so powerfully awkward. I was crumbling into a little ball with Nick.

You also see a lot of Nick’s ADHD. It’s not only in the actions he takes, but the internal dialogue TJ Klune gives our main character. I liked that it wasn’t a throwaway point. It wasn’t just added in for the sake of being added, but it was such a part of Nick’s personality. There were even moments when his father asked if he took his pill. I liked that continuity in the story.

One thing I was frustrated by was that Nick was so clueless. This isn’t a difficult book (in terms of fantasy and world building) and TJ Klune gives you a lot of clues leading to the conclusion and ending. It really boggled me that Nick didn’t see it, but his friends did. And the readers will definitely figure it out before Nick does too.

I will say that listening to this audiobook has its pitfalls. There are moments when Nick and his friends are all talking at once and I couldn’t differentiate who was saying what. I don’t think it was the narrator’s fault, but the book just being a storm of dialogue. I will say that the narrator does an amazing job bringing life to Nick. He has pauses, whispers lines, and really embodies the main character.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It reminded me of what it was like being a teenager who wanted fantasy to become a reality. And Nick Bell lives in a world where the fantasy is a reality. It’s inclusive, funny, serious, and a little brave. I wish more books like this existed in the world.

I received a copy of this book from Libro.fm for free. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

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