The love interest by Helen Comerford

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Helen Comerford’s debut YA novel is a lot of fun. 2024 is the year that a prophesied superhero is supposed to save the town of Nine Trees from disaster. So when romantic superhero Blaze saves Jenna Ray from the explosive fire at the Culture Centre the news is all over the networks. Will Jenna be the hero’s preordained ‘Love Interest’? Independent minded heroine, Jenna, decides she’s not having any of it.

Although Blaze is championed by the Heroics and Power Authority (HPA) as the latest hero to overcome the Villains, the more Jenna becomes involved with him, the more uncertain she is about the purpose of the HPA, and who the Villains really are. There is also the question of what happened to her brilliant engineer mother; why has she disappeared?

It’s a twisty plot with mystery, adventure, and quirky situations that will make you laugh. While completely engaging as a superhero story it also comes across as an enjoyable and irreverent send-up of the genre. Blaze reminds me so much of the hot but slightly dumb Weston in Sophie Gonzales’ The perfect guy doesn’t exist. Comerford’s superhero Blaze is cute, and good intentioned, but needs Jenna’s prodding to stop and question some of the too easily accepted rhetoric of supposed authority figures.

The other interesting element is Jenna’s own insecurity – the panic attacks where she needs to mindfully relax and breathe her way out. Her family and her friend Joy help her through those episodes, and gradually she discovers her inner strength and special power.

Readers who enjoy this novel might also enjoy the lighthearted The perfect guy doesn’t exist by Sophie Gonzales, or for another weird superhero story dealing with anxiety, The spider and her demons by sydney khoo.

Themes: Superheroes, Anxiety, Identity, Romance, Feminism.

Helen Eddy