Title: The Extraordinaries by T.J Klune
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication date: 14 July 2020
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Page extent: 405 pages
Goodreads blurb: Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.
Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?
After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).
Well I’m extraordinarily in love with this book. It was everything I wanted it to be and more, which, of course it was because T.J Klune is an absolute genius and I will read everything he writes from now till ever. This had me laughing out loud on one page and sobbing the next. It is a brilliantly fun take on the superhero genre, has wonderfully open and honest portrayals of grief, discusses ADHD so personally it reverberates on every page, has an absolutelyfuckingadorable romance, a killer friendship group, lots of funny fandom anecdotes that brought back so much nostalgia, and a tender and warm message about being extraordinary when you’re ordinary.
The Extraordinaries is set in a world where superheros exist (though here they’re called Extraordinaries). In Nova City, Shadow Star protects the city from the evil villain PyroStorm. In this city is Nick, Shadow Star’s greatest fan and fanfic author of the most popular fanfic about the Extraordinaries. When he runs into Shadow Star in an alley, Nick decides he wants to become an Extraordinary himself and so begins his plan to turn himself into a superhero, much to the consternation of his friends.
I don’t quite know where to start with reviewing this book because I loved everything so much. It was warm and cosy and so funny, I can’t remember the last time I laughed this much at a book. Nick is just a brilliant and adorable character. He’s open and honest about his ADHD in such a relatable and funny way (and I just want to shout out that this is own voices ADHD rep too!) Nick is just an absolute precious gem, his complete blindness when it comes to his feelings for Seth is adorable, his realisation journey is so cute. Seth is quite possibly even more adorable than Nick, with his bowties (bowties are cool), cravats and a big secret he can’t possibly tell Nick. Alongside Gibby, Jazz and Owen, this is a friendship group that sounds like it must be some of the most fun. They’re all so hilarious in their own ways, so brilliantly, openly queer and pretty much everything I want in a rag tag team of misfits. Gibby is a butch lesbian who won’t take shit from anyone and has the most deadpan ringers; Jazz is sweet and kind and then she turns around and knocks you out of the park with a revelation; Owen is flirty and arrogant and popular (and his dad is the richest man in the city), but he can be so vulnerable at times when Nick gets through his walls.
Alongside the hilarity of these characters, there are several moments that had me almost sobbing. The book deals openly with grief, Nick having lost his mum fairly recently and Seth having lost both his parents when young. With his Dad’s job as a policeman, Nick is filled with anxiety about losing his Dad as well, and there are scenes so raw and gutrenching I thought it would tear me apart. I’m very glad I was in a different room from my partner when reading this because he always thinks it’s funny how emotionally invested I get in books!
I loved the sass towards the superhero genre as well. It flowed throughout the book, from the ridiculous villain speeches, to the need for capes. I also very much appreciated the fandom and fanfic references and excerpts throughout, this felt so nostalgic. I was completely brought back to my teenage days sneaking around writing fanfic, right down to the tags they used on Nick’s fanfic excerpts, it was all so reminiscent.
Everything about this book was just brilliant. T.J Klune astounds me with every book I read, I don’t think there’s another author out there who can quite make me laugh and cry as much as he does. It’s a fun, fresh, fandom enthusiastic take on the superhero genre with the most adorable romance. I read the majority of this book (the last 70%) in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. I sincerely hope we get more books in this series as soon as possible because I will follow these characters for years!