The Nameless Hero

Bk. 2. illus. by Brandon Dorman. 304p. (Joshua Dread Series). Delacorte. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-385-74186-6; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-99028-1; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98722-9.
Gr 4–6—Joshua Dread was looking forward to a relaxing summer-or at least as peaceful as things can get for the son of the world's greatest supervillain duo. Instead, he and his two friends are off to Gyfted & Talented, an exclusive, invitation-only program for kids with certain unusual abilities. Director Gavin Garland announces that the crew has been selected to become the greatest superhero team of all time-the Alliance of the Impossible. He has everything arranged-cool uniforms, specialized training-even secret identities. However, Joshua suspects that there's more to the G&T program than meets the eye. The training exercises seem unduly dangerous, there are surveillance cameras everywhere-and what is Garland hiding behind that locked black door? After the team's first spectacular public mission, Joshua fumbles his secret-identity name and accidentally becomes a media celebrity. Garland seizes on the idea of the Nameless Hero to organize a massive publicity campaign with interviews, product endorsements, and TV appearances. At first, Joshua enjoys being a star, but soon jealousy between the Nameless Hero and the rest of the Alliance causes conflict among the team members, and he knows that they're going to need to stand together to survive. A bit darker than Joshua Dread (Delacorte, 2012), this book highlights the perils of media-created celebrity. Joshua goes from unknown to idol in a few Internet clicks and YouTube views. However, there are plenty of playful moments to lighten the tension, particularly when the kids' parents get involved, and there is a strong underlying theme of family loyalty and friendship. Familiarity with the first book is helpful but not essential and there are plenty of plot threads left for additional sequels.—Elaine E. Knight, formerly at Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL

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