by Mike Lupica
Let’s face it, the closest thing to a sport I will ever take part in is a race to the bestseller shelf at Barnes. Yet, I love how Mike Lupica can take a subject that would typically put me to sleep, like baseball and football, weave it into a cast of awesome characters, and keep me riveted to the action. The novels, Heat and Million Dollar Throw captured me for that reason, and it is because of those novels that I chose to read Hero. Sadly, however, Hero didn’t keep me nearly as glued as the others.
Zach’s dad is something of a hero, he’s the president’s right-hand man, scares the bejesus out of “The Bads” (or bad guys) and has the love of everyone around him—especially Zach—who doesn’t get to see his dad nearly as much as he’d like. When Zach’s dad dies in a plane accident, Zach and his family are stunned, but Zach is more stunned when he discovers that his father had a secret, and now it’s up to Zach to discover what that secret was and what it has to do with Zach. Chapter one begins with butt-kicking action, but then the action slows instantly. Zach and his friend Kate live in New York City, the city that never sleeps, and yet I was finding myself hard-pressed to stay awake while Zach explores first the plane crash site, and then the park in search of answers. Even when Zach encounters trouble and has to fight for his life, the action slows immediately after each conflict, making the story’s momentum stagger. Couple that with the fact that each conflict is followed by long, suggestive conversations between Zach’s “Uncle” John and the mysterious Mr. Herbert, and it can be easy for even the most motivated reader to stay invested in the outcome. Too little information is provided as the story moves on, and frankly, the identity of the villain and the good guy are a little too easy to figure out. The best part of this story is Kate’s tough-as-nails attitude, and reading about what living in New York City is like for the well-to-do. Overall, I prefer Lupica’s previous efforts.