Books, Culture, Representation, Social Issues

REVIEW: Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith

Featured image: A banner which shows Murph looking anxious in a running stance, the authors and the book cover. The tagline reads ‘Kid Normal is back and this time he’s going rogue.’ Below the cover is #KidNormal.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Kids and NetGalley for the review copy.

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes is the second novel in the children’s superhero series by Radio 1’s Greg James and Chris Smith. I will make no secret of the fact that I read this book because of the authors. These radio nerds are two of my favourite chaps on the planet, and there is a good chance that one of them is reading this right now, so do forgive me if the review comes across as slightly biased (I’m being honest, I promise!)

Murph Cooper and his friends have completed their first year at ‘The School’, a place where kids with superpowers or ‘capes’ learn to use (or at least control) their special ability. Despite the fact that Murph has no superpower at all and is only accepted into the school after an almightily awkward monumental mix-up, he and his pals are inducted into The Heroes Alliance as ‘Kid Normal and the Super Zeroes’ after they defeat the evil, if utterly ridiculous, Lord Nektar. They think that they’re in for a quiet second year at The School but the most dangerous super-villain (or Rogue Hero) of them all has other ideas. No-one has been able to go near Magpie in 30 years for fear of having their power stolen, so when he summons Kid Normal to his top-security cell, The Alliance seizes the opportunity to glean new information on his crimes. The visit seems unfruitful, and frankly, a massive let down but Murph is convinced that there must be more to know. A nonsense poem and a bit of digging lead the gang on their most important mission yet.

Right from the off I was so impressed with this sequel! It jumps straight into the action, as the Super Zeroes thwart a jewel thief with ease. It keeps up the pace throughout with an exciting premise and twists and turns every few chapters moving the story forward. It strikes a much better balance between plot and Greg and Chris’ wonderful brand of comedy than its predecessor. The jokes fit in very well and add much needed lightness and fun. I really appreciated The Monty Python-esque interlude and the Famous Five reference! A few of the action scenes go on a bit too long for my liking but not enough to detract from the book as a whole.

I was thrilled to see a properly scary villain! He was chilling and I actually felt like he was a real threat to the heroes this time, making it infinitely more exciting.

The diverse representation in this book is fantastic. At the beginning we’re introduced to an old-school hero with a flying wheelchair! He even has his own accessible hovercraft! I had a little cry with joy! Our team of heroes is gender balanced and Nellie, who is a girl of colour and a selective mute, is absolutely brilliant. One thing I loved about Kid Normal that is brought forward to book two is the theme of old and young people working together to save the day. I haven’t seen this often, especially in children’s literature, and it is really lovely to read.

Character development is another outstanding element of Kid Normal and The Rogue Heroes. Murph and his friends all mature significantly during the few months in which the book is set. They all learn that actions can have serious consequences and build on the friendships they formed in the first book. We learn much more about the adults of the Kid Normal universe and their pasts too. Even grumpy, shouty Mr Flash gets the chance to show he’s not a totally unreasonable buffoon! This makes the book rich and well rounded.

Overall, this is a fabulously fun story. It is a huge improvement on the first Kid Normal book, so if you loved that one you’ll like this one even more. It might be aimed at kids but it will hook grown ups too. I’m so happy about how much I enjoyed it and I’m really pleased that there are two more books to look forward to in the series. All that’s left for me to say is please go forth with peace and love and enjoy this wonderful adventure!

10 out of 10

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes is out now.

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