How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying)

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Aug. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063114302.
Gr 8 Up–Fernandez’s debut YA novel is ostensibly about college sophomore Astrid’s struggles to adapt to the realization that her boyfriend, Max, is a superhero. Astrid must find time in her busy schedule to attend weekly survival training with others whose significant others are superheroes, as well as navigate kidnappings, in addition to a grueling pre-med college career. In truth, the story is about Astrid choosing to prioritize love and happiness, overcoming a compulsive PTSD-induced over-scheduling habit, and discovering her own inner hero. The narrative is interspersed with a series of flashbacks to the origins of Astrid and Max’s romance. As a protagonist, Astrid is sometimes cold and has destructive levels of self-discipline, which can initially make her an unlikable narrator, but readers will grow attached as they get to know her. There are minimal in-jokes that relate to the current DC and Marvel superhero fandoms, making this an accessible read for non-fans. For a more referential (and darker) treatment of superhero girlfriends, check out The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente. Unfortunately, Astrid’s limited view of the superhero world results in major plot points happening off screen and some deus ex machina moments.
VERDICT While not the first or best superhero-adjacent story, this accessible book will appeal to fans of superhero worlds, as well as over-scheduled and overworked teens preparing for college.

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