The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune is a queer superhero book that takes you by surprise with its humor, lovable characters, and relatable heart to heart moments. It’s been two years since 16-year-old, queer, ADHD Nick Bell’s mother passed away. It hasn’t been easy for Nick and his cheesy-joke having cop dad trying to figure things out- especially now that there are superheroes (Extraordinaries) in Nova City.
“So you keep on going by yourself, hoping one day it will get better, and the only thing that’s in your head is why you started to begin with. Why you put on that stupid costume in the first place. The promise you made to yourself. And some days, that’s almost not enough.”
Nick is a fanboy to the max, hyper fixating on the concept of Shadow Star falling in love with him, and with the idea of becoming Extraordinary too, one day. His group of friends are made up of Gibby, a self proclaimed baby butch, her girlfriend Jazz, an observant head cheerleader, Seth, Nick’s childhood best friend and maybe the love of his life, and Owen- his sometimes there, sometimes not, overly charming, jerk of an ex.
“He promised himself he would do everything he could to make sure you never had to go through that again.”
This book made me laugh, and cry, and sometimes both. I adored these characters as if I knew them in real life. The friend group and parents felt so real, in the cheesy jokes and the bantering, down to the not-so-pleasant moments of arguing. It was relatable and raw experiencing Nick’s spiraling due to the trauma of losing his mom, and the ways his brain chose to cope with this.
The gay pining between friends that’s developed over the years had me screaming, both in “please get together now before I smack you both” to “this is so soft I’m going to lose it.” The way that Nick’s friends understand him, while still calling him out while he deserves it, felt so good- so rarely do you see healthy friendships in YA novels like this. Nick’s touch and go relationship with his father, who was just doing his best, left me in tears at moments- and laughing the next. Owen, trouble making, daddy-issue having Owen, even had his moments of like ability, just like any well-written bad boy.
The overarching process of Shadow Star vs. Pyro Storm and how that wove itself into the story of teens just growing up and experiencing life made this coming of age novel a new experience; one that was fun and relatable while also having some fantasy aspects that brought new life. It was a gen-z Toby McGuire Spider-Man- except your main character isn’t the superhero this time. I cannot express enough how much I loved this book, and want everyone and their mom (well…not literally) to read this, and I need the second book like…now.