Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
Blaze’s life is so ordinary you could call it downright boring. All she does is ferry around her younger brother and his friends to the mall and soccer games in the Superturd, her brown, soccer-mom minivan. Her mom is constantly working the graveyard shift at the hospital, and her dad left them years ago --- all she’s got left of him are the hundreds of comics he left behind in the basement, all of which she’s read cover to cover. She has no social life. She’s never had a boyfriend. She’s never even kissed a boy. That is until she catches the eye of one of the hottest boys in school: her brother’s soccer coach.
"Blaze uses her geekiness to her advantage. In the end, her love of comics is what turns her life around, gives her the inspiration to stand up for herself and helps her find people that are worth her time and love."
Suddenly Blaze goes from feeling Super Invisible to Super Amazing. She doesn't know what she’s doing with Mark, but he’s funny and hot and she thinks she might be in love with him. Blaze will do almost anything to get him to like her --- trouble is that Mark has a reputation, and he’s only interested in one thing from Blaze. When Blaze sleeps with Mark, that’s the last time he’s willing to give her the time of day. But she’s read enough comics to know what happens next. You don’t mess with a girl with a name like Blaze and get away with it. Blaze has been working in secret on a comic about the Blazing Goddess versus her newest nemesis: Mark the Shark. The next thing Mark knows, Blaze’s revenge is all over school, he’s the butt of everybody’s jokes and Blaze has been catapulted into small-town fame. Mark isn't down for the count through; he has some revenge of his own up his sleeve and it’s about to bring Blaze’s entire world crashing down around her.
BLAZE is Crompton’s debut novel and it shows in the pacing. The beginning drags on too long and Blaze waxing poetic about Mark gets old quickly. But the novel picks up once the initial romance-gone-wrong has run its course, and Blaze gets more assertive and way more fun to read about. It’s an easy read that goes by quickly despite the initial drag, the middle and end flash by in a whirl of emotion and suspense.
It’s easy to think in the first hundred pages that this is a novel that revels in hurtful drama, but it’s a book with a surprising amount of heart. Blaze grapples with not just her unfolding social crisis but with her overworked mother, her little brother for whom she has become a surrogate parent, her absent father’s betrayal and learning that there’s always more to people than what rumor says. It’s that tone which brings a sense of realness to BLAZE, in spite of the occasionally awkward pacing and simplistic plot.
BLAZE is also partially a story about the triumph of the geek girl. Blaze uses her geekiness to her advantage. In the end, her love of comics is what turns her life around, gives her the inspiration to stand up for herself and helps her find people that are worth her time and love. This is, perhaps, the main characteristic of BLAZE that sets it apart from other novels with similar storylines. The novel is full of comic book allusions that anybody who’s ever read comics will appreciate. I will hand it to Crompton, she manages to pull off the geeky angle without alienating a reader who isn’t into geek subculture.
Reviewed by Evan Pivazyan on February 11, 2013