The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune – REVIEW
In Nova City, there are extraordinary people, capable of feats that defy the imagination. Shadow Star protects the city and manipulates darkness, and Pyro Storm is determined to bring the city to its knees using his power over fire.
And then there’s Nick who…well, being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?
Instead of fighting crime, Nick contends with a new year at school, a father who doesn’t trust him, and a best friend named Seth, who may or may not be the love of Nick’s short, uneventful life.
It should be enough. But 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 Seth’s reluctant help…
Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart in TJ Klune’s YA debut: a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.
I received a complimentary eARC of this book from Hodder & Stoughton.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Seth was too smart. Nick was too loud. Gibby was too butch, and Jazz had once been like everyone else before Gibby had put her lesbian magic all over her and taken her to the dark side.”
This was my first book by T.J. Klune but it definitely won’t be my last thanks to how much I loved it. In Nova City, there are superheroes called Extraordinaries and sixteen-year-old Nick is obsessed with Shadow Star. He writes thirsty, wish-fulfilment fan-fiction centred around Shadow Star falling in love with a character that’s plainly him. Nick is such an endearing character despite being completely oblivious and reckless. The book basically revolves around everyone saying “Nicky, no” and Nicky deciding “Nicky, yes”. He’s also neurodivergent with ADHD and it was amazing how this was present on every page. I don’t think I’ve ever properly understood ADHD until reading this book and experiencing what Nick experiences.
“Nick knew the power of words. He knew that sometimes when they landed, they exploded with the force of a carelessly tossed grenade.”
The plot revolves around Nick’s decision to become Extraordinary in an attempt to protect his dad and capture the attention of Shadow Star. No one knows exactly how someone becomes Extraordinary so I loved Nick’s origin story attempts – a radioactive cricket, a meteor, a nuclear power plant etc. They are exactly as ridiculous and hilarious as they sound. The author continues to play with superhero tropes throughout the story, questioning what makes heroes and villains. Any fans of superhero comics and films will appreciate what the author attempts with Nick’s story and won’t be surprised by the mid-credits scene at the end of the book.
“I know I talk a lot, and I know my brain makes me do or say things that people don’t always get, but that doesn’t make the things I want any less important.”
The foundation of this book was the friendship group of Nick, Seth, Gibby and Jazz. This queer squad (Nick is gay, Seth is bi, and Gibby and Jazz are lesbians) is absolutely perfect and I loved the stories describing how they each met. Despite being obsessed with Shadow Star, Nick also has to deal with his growing feelings for best friend and cinnamon-roll Seth. I adored how their relationship developed and will protect them with my life. Nick’s sweet and supportive relationship with his dad was also lovely, especially the bond that formed out of their shared grief after the death of Nick’s mum. The reason I knocked half a star off my rating was because Nick’s dad is a police officer and the story is very pro-police. In this current climate, it felt a bit wrong but I appreciate the publication date was unfortunate.
“Love is such a weapon in the face of darkness, if you only know how to wield it.”
The humour in this book is some of the best I’ve ever read and had me laughing out loud so many times; it’s snarky, witty, and full of love. At its core, the story is about friendship, family, and love but it’s not afraid to dream big and I loved the epic showdown between two Extraordinaries near the end of the book. I can’t gush about this book enough and urge you to beg, borrow, or buy a copy as soon as you can. The Extraordinaries is the super-soft, super queer, superhero tale you’ve never known you needed.