Faith: Taking Flight

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jul. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062899651.
Gr 8 Up–Faith lives with her Grandma Lou and loves animals, running a fan site for the TV drama The Grove, and hanging out with her best friends. She’s also hiding a big secret: She’s a superhero. Last summer, she was not actually at camp, but imprisoned—being “activated” by evil scientists. Faith is ready to move on, focusing on school and the cute boy she’s liked forever—with occasional flying practice. Then The Grove moves production to Faith’s town and she rapidly becomes (more than?) friends with lead actress Dakota Ash. A mystery is afoot, with townsfolk and pets going missing, and a strange new drug circulating at school. Faith uses her new bird’s eye view to do some Veronica Mars-style sleuthing. Readers of Valiant’s “Faith” comics will see that character translated from a flying millennial who works at a Buzzfeed-style media outlet, to a bisexual 12th grader who writes for the school paper. Murphy knows how to build characters and evoke a sense of place. Here, she borrows from teen soaps and superhero comics in ways that turbo-charge the pace and heighten the stakes. The resulting queer, fat, superhero coming-of-age novel has enough heart to anchor the wilder plot points and to balance campiness with relatability. Some readers may feel thrown by the busy narrative, but most hijinks are handled expertly, and the plot is no more complicated than Riverdale or Spider-Man.
VERDICT This #OwnVoices genre and format mashup is fun and memorable, and should produce legions of new Faith superfans.

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