Book Review: Legend of the Boy by Toi Thomas
Legend of the Boy by Toi Thomas
Novella, superhero fiction
A boy wakes up in restraints, no idea who he is or how he got there. It soon becomes clear that the boy is an alien, whose fall to Earth destroyed a city and threw humanity into panic. The CIA has hold of the boy, and they want him to use his alien powers to save the Earth from a cluster of a thousand comets headed directly for us. But the heart of the story is not whether the CIA can talk the boy into helping us; it’s whether we really want the kind of help he’s got to give.
It’s a neat little story, broken into four parts. It’ll take you under an hour to get through. What I found most admirable about the story was Toi’s ambition. From the boy’s beginning strapped to a chair being grilled by mysterious forces, I expected Toi to throw in a handful of tropes – a friendly CIA agent, a bit of bonding, a slow development of power, catastrophe averted and celebrations all round. To my delight (and aghast), this really wasn’t the case. The boy does save Earth, but at an enormous cost, both to Earth and seemingly to the boy’s love for humanity. By the book’s end we really would have been better to take our chances with the comets. The boy has all kinds of crazy super powers – turning himself into light, pushing away the moon, exploding things with the force of his mind. He’s not the kind of guy you want to annoy. But, unfortunately, he’s also not a difficult guy to annoy. I really liked this corruption by power of a character who starts out so sweet and eager to please. Toi handled it deftly and it really makes for quite a striking story. I can’t say much more than that without massive spoilers.
The book does have its issues. Mainly these are superficial – a handful of typos I’m surprised weren’t caught, a few odd word choices, some heavy-handedness with adjectives. All in all however the prose is solid, if not exceptional, and Toi shows great promise as a writer.
Also, and I’m not going to fault the book for this – I would if it weren’t self-published – but there is also this deceptive bit of weirdness with internal hyperlinks. After each of the story’s four parts, we’re given the option to return to the Table of Contents. I’m not actually sure the book HAS a table of contents, but even if it does, the option to go back to the TOC at the end of each part tricks you into thinking that the end of the part is the end of the story. Which, imagine my confusion when 20% of the way in I reached the end of part 1. If you are reading the book, just beware of this, and keep reading all the way to the end.
There you have it. Legend of the Boy. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and I was pleasantly surprised. Earnest, ambitious and fresh, Toi is shaping up to be one to keep your eye on. I’m giving it 3.5 stars.
Also! I’m still floundering away in a sea of magic school fiction. There must be a plethora of it written by independent authors, but I just can’t find it. Anything that is kind of Harry Potter but not, will do. If you know any independents who have magic school stories available, or if you are one such independent, please drop me a line. Independent, represent! Whoo whoo whoo! Or something like that.