Reviews

Arc Review: The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune ✨ Superheroes but sadly also Disappointment

The Extraordinaries

Goodreads – Amazon  – Book Depository

CW’s: Violence, Scene involving Bugs, Grief/Loss of a Loved One

Representation 🌷 Gay MC with ADHD, queer supporting characters

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.

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Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Teen Box for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! All quotes are taken from the Arc and therefore subject to changes.

I was feeling majorly conflicted about The Extraordinaries. I really wanted to like it, as it has queer superheroes, great disability, and grief representation as well as a focus on friendship and family. However, the more I read, the less I found myself enjoying the book as irritating things started to pile up. I really hope that other readers might enjoy this book a lot more than I did though, as there was plenty of potential!

“Seth didn’t move away. His eyes widened a little. He licked his lips. He had nice lips. Really nice. Nick didn’t know why he hadn’t noticed that before.
Nick whispered. “Then who did you -“
“Your dad told me the door needed to be kept open,” Gibby said from behind them. “I laughed at him, but now I see why.”
Nick screamed and as he jumped, almost falling to the floor.”

✅ There was so much great representation! ➽ Nick has ADHD and we also see him dealing with the grief of losing his mother two years ago. I definitely liked how the author explored his hurt and fear of also losing more people he loved, as well as how his ADHD impacted his life. We get a great insight into Nick’s thought process and troubles in school because his teachers don’t approve of his way of thinking and always get him into trouble. It broke my heart to see Nick so defeated at times, but I loved that he had a good support system that actually understood him. His father can sometimes be harsh, but he tries his best to understand Nick and for him to be happy. I really liked the message that Nick was extraordinary in his own right, no matter what everyone thought. I also loved that his friendship group was entirely queer: Nick himself is gay, Seth is bisexual and Jazz and Gibby (who are together) are both lesbians.

✅ Nick and Seth were really cute ➽ I was tempted to give the book 3 stars just for their cuteness, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. I loved their soft moments and the mutual pining, especially made painful by Nick’s obliviousness for Seth’s feelings. They have been best friends for years and went through a lot of things together, so their bond is very strong to begin with. I loved that Seth really understood Nick and always tried to be there for him: he accepts Nick for who he is and is one of the few people that gets him. You can also see how much Nick cares for his friend: he’s constantly thinking about how Seth is the greatest person he knows and one that he needs to protect. They both love each other so much, it was painful to see Nick be so oblivious about his own feelings for his best friend. This was truly a great friends to lovers story, as Nick and Seth are really adorable together and adore each other so much that it melted my heart. Their interactions and pining was my favorite part of the book.

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⛔ There was barely any worldbuilding ➽ In general, superhero stories are very popular so there’s a need to put an interesting spin of them or at least an interesting origin story for superpowers … but here we got nothing. There was only one big info dump in the first quarter of the story about how Extraordinaries came to be after the second world war and that no one has any idea where the powers came from or if they are made vs. born. That was about the extent of the worldbuilding and it really bothered me, as it needs to be woven into the story, but here we didn’t get anything. Tha’s why the book read more like a contemporary with some vague fantastical elements. It really bothered me to not know more and I had so many questions like how come no one had researched Extraorindaries, their powers and how they came to be? The police mention that they are annoyed at them for causing trouble for them, so why has no one tried to register them? Sure they all have secret identities, but I find it a bit unbelievable that the government hasn’t tried to contain them or set rules in any kind. Also: How did the Extraordinaries fandom come to be??

⛔ The plotline was all over the place ➽ At first, I thought it would all be about Nick getting closer with his hero Shadow Star and therefore getting involved in superhero business. However, it quickly delved into Nick trying to become an Extraordinary himself (that gave me major Vicious flashbacks) and that is where it got a bit badly planned and downright messy. Because we have no foundation for how Extraordinaries work (with better worldbuilding, he could have at least a good starting point), Nick can only make absurd guesses taken from comic books and the media. It felt a bit silly at times, as he had no solid plan and his attempts to get powers were obviously not going to work, as he had no idea what he was doing. That irritated me a lot because it felt like the entire plotline wasn’t well thought out and became unbelievable really quickly, as it wasn’t based on any logical decisions. I also thought that it would have been a great idea to have the fanfiction snippets that Nick writes after every chapter. The book compares itself to Fangirl, yet shows us maybe 3 excerpts of Nick’s writing when there was great opportunity to include some chapters from his really long story.

⛔ A lot of scenes tried to be funny but came across as cringey ➽ There were some genuinely funny scenes in the book, but most of the time the scenes that were intended to be witty and fun came across as a bit cringey. From overused, cliche phrases (the book trying to mock that and be self-aware failed for me as well) to weird slang that I have never heard anyone use, I sometimes felt like the scenes were a bit stilted and all over the place. Sometimes it was hard to follow the conversations as parts of the dialogue felt so unnatural that they prevented the writing from flowing organically.

⛔ Owen’s character was such a stereotype and so irritating ➽ Now I don’t think that we were meant to like him, as Nick and his friends call out his jerkish and mean behavior, yet they never did anything about it. The book leads us to believe that Jazz and Gibby take no nonsense from everyone, so why didn’t they call out Owen more? It makes no sense that Owen was ‘friends’ with them as he was constantly mean and no one actually liked him. Not to mention his lack of respect for Nick’s boundaries and how he was just another stereotypical bad boy with parental issues. I didn’t think that he had any depth, basically Owen only existed to stir up trouble.

⛔ Minor things that irritated me ➽ There were a lot of things that began to irritate me as the book went on and it got to a point where they all oiled up. I really wanted to give this book maybe 3 stars, but I found myself not enjoying the book at all as every few scenes I would feel a bit irritated. so here are some of the small things that bothered me:

  • The constant hate for the reporter Rebecca Firestone. Nick hates her because she seems to be dreamy for his idol Shadow Star, but his vicious judgment of her got annoying really quickly. It was strange with what a fervor he hated her.
  • Jazz and Gibby also felt a bit stereotypical. Their characters felt a bit exaggerated at times, as the book tried to emphasize how they can defend themselves and beat up anyone. At one point it just was a bit much.
  • Nick’s obsession with Shadow Star. At first, it was funny that he wrote basically self-insert fanfiction about his hero and him, but as the book went on I felt myself growing tired of his monologues about how he loved Shadow Star and how severely he reacted when someone criticized him.
  • Also: Nick was so naive at times it hurt. I can accept his obliviousness, but sometimes he was so naive that it aggravated me as a reader. E.g. he was being stalled by someone and he genuinely believed them that their house was haunted and used to be an asylum 🤐
  • It was so predictable and obvious who the real identities of Pyro Storm and Shadow Star were. We figure it out as the reader pretty early on, as there are so many hints, so it was a bit frustrating to see Nick constantly dismiss them.
  • The ending wasn’t that great. It made a character who had been so supportive turn into someone who had done unforgivable things and pulls one of my least favorite ‘twists’.

“But that doesn’t mean that you still can’t be a good person, right? Just because you did something wrong doesn’t mean that’s who you are.”

IN CONCLUSION.The Extraordinaries could have been a great story about queer superheroes but sadly it lacked a coherent, logical plot as well as good worldbuilding. In the end, I felt myself being more irritated at the book and not even the cuteness between Seth and Nick could get myself to enjoy my reading experience.

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Are you going to read The Extraordinaries? What superpower would you like to have if you could choose? ✨

 

2 thoughts on “Arc Review: The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune ✨ Superheroes but sadly also Disappointment

  1. sorry this didn’t quite live up to your expectations, caro! i’ve been hearing mainly positive things about it, and the queer superheroes + adhd rep sounds so good. but i also heard that there’s some cop propaganda in it too, so i just took it completely off my tbr haha 😭 if i’d read this though, i feel like i definitely would have been bothered by what you said about it trying to be funny but being cringy instead! great review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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