Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…
My favorite aspect of the novel is the close relationship between Blaze and little brother (and only sibling). The two are extremely close and, though he’s younger, Blaze’s brother is very protective of her. Their relationship felt realistic and reminded me of my own relationship with my little brother.
Blaze’s insistence that her crush, Mark, is actually a good guy and that he is genuinely interested in her felt realistic most of the time, but sometime it pushed into less unbelievable territory. Still, I have to consider the fact that, after an individual has convinced themselves of certain things, it can be hard to change perception or admit being mistaken. So I think this played into Blaze’s letting things go so far with Mark (or Sleazeball as I like to call him).
Throughout the novel, Blaze alternates between embracing her role as “soccer mom,” driving her little brother and his friends to soccer and whatnot, and being very bitter towards her adopted role and her single mother who works long hours at the hospital. Blaze romanticizes her absent father, who left the family years before to pursue an acting career in New York City, and often paints him as the hero to her mother’s villainy. I know that this may be a typical adolescent point-of-view and reaction to the situation at hand, but, after Blaze realized her father wasn’t all she had made him into, I would have really liked to see her apologize to her mother! Or have some type of moment with her.
I also found the “guy” humor in the novel to be a bit jarring. I don’t consider myself a prude or anything, and I know that teenage boys are smelly and whatnot, but discussion of those smells and all that has never been very amusing to me and for some reason, still doesn’t seem like something people should talk about aloud. It doesn’t offend me or anything, I just avoid it, but it’s unavoidable in Blaze. Maybe I’m just weird and nobody else would be thrown off by this, but it was kind of distracting for me.
In comparison, I loved the comic book elements and talk Blaze often slips in and out of or makes reference to. The illustrations within the text are all amazing and were a positive addition to the text. They definitely allowed me to connect more closely with Blaze, who I was feeling some distance to because of the previously mentioned “guy” humor.
Lastly, at the end of the book, Blaze’s brother and his friends decide to slash Mark’s tires. WHAT!? Again, maybe it’s just me, but this did not seem like acceptable retaliation or like something Blaze should congratulate them on doing… Maybe this is something kids do these days? As someone who had to replace a tire this week (not even all four tires) and who wanted to cry as I paid the bill, I couldn’t help but feel this was over the top and unnecessarily cruel because, in the end, Sleazeball’s parents are going to pay that bill. Plus, helloooo, destroying property is not cool.
Overall, Blaze (Or Love in the Time of Supervillains) was pretty good, but there were some negative aspects that definitely detracted from my enjoyment. I do, however, think my issues were entirely personal in nature and the next person to pick up the novel may not be fazed at all! Unless you really connected with something in my review that you think you’d find distracting, I recommend giving this debut a try! Don’t forget to check out my interview with the author, Laurie Boyle Crompton, here!
Sourcebooks Fire, February 2013, Paperback, ISBN: 9781402273438, 309 pages.