Gr 6-10-In a major departure from his YA sports fiction, the popular Lupica opts for a high-concept, high-octane action thriller. When the father he idolizes dies in a covert government operation, 14-year-old Billy Harriman is determined to find out who killed him, and why. In the course of his investigation he discovers that his father had superpowers, and that he has inherited them. Guided by a mysterious older man who identifies himself as Mr. Herbert, and supported by his wise and sassy girlfriend Kate, Billy begins to come to terms with his destiny. As his socially prominent mother assumes a leading role in the campaign of the presidential candidate his father had backed, Billy finds himself at odds with his father's old friend (and mother's current advisor). The teen eventually becomes convinced that Uncle John is allied with the forces responsible for his father's death. After he uses his superpowers to thwart an assassination attempt on the candidate, he confronts Uncle John, who remains evasive about his involvement with the shadowy organization that seems to have targeted Billy and his family. With all the major issues unresolved at the novel's end, the stage is set for a sequel to what looks like a surefire hit.-Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Lupica, best known for his popular sports novels for youth, explores new territory in this title, which begins with a highly skilled American agent's first-person account of a dangerous solo mission in the Balkans. By the second chapter, though, readers learn that the agent died during his mission, and the story is picked up by a new narrator, who shifts the telling to third person and the focus to the agent's son, Billy. After learning that he is being pursued by shadowy bad guys, Billy is ambushed in New York's Central Park. Luckily, though, he has recently discovered that he possesses supernatural powers, and he overcomes his attackers. Lupica effectively unfolds this high-adventure story, which sends Billy on a classic hero's journey with two possible guides, one of whom turns out to be treacherous. At the end, Lupica implies that it's going to take more than one book to tell Billy's story, which should please the inevitable new fans this effort will attract. Pair this with William Boniface's The Hero Revealed (2006).--Morning, Todd Copyright 2010 Booklist
Sportswriter and novelist Lupica (Million-Dollar Throw) offers a change of pace from his previous sports stories for younger readers, deftly reworking the traditional superhero origin story into a moving tale of adolescent growth. Shortly after his father dies in a plane accident, 14-year-old Zach Harriman discovers that his father was more than just a highly placed government adviser; he might have been a superhero. As he investigates his father's death, he meets an old man named Mr. Herbert, who claims that Zach has magic within him, and Zach soon discovers that the mild hints of power he'd shown-a sixth sense about danger and an ability to heal quickly-are only the tip of the iceberg. Lupica nicely coaxes sympathy for characters who are immersed in privilege (only Zach's friend Kate, who lives with her housekeeper mother in Zach's huge Fifth Avenue apartment, doesn't exude wealth), instead focusing on Zach's grief, his conflicting emotions over his discoveries, and his uncertainty over who to trust. As superhero stories go, it follows a classic arc, but Lupica's characters avoid cliche. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.