Endearing, Courageous and Entertaining are the words that best describe this piece of fiction, ‘Almost Heroes’. Finding courage to step up in any situation makes you almost as much a hero as you would admire in a movie. And that is what the characters of this book do!
Warning – Spoilers ahead!
About the Story
‘Almost Heroes’ is a young adult story about a 17 year old teenager, Santana who is trying to figure out her path in life, fighting hard against her mother’s wishes and vision of what a good life means. On the path of figuring herself out she takes up a job of being a hero’s sidekick. From there her life becomes quite adventurous as she takes on tasks after tasks to help others
The hero of this book, or shall I say the sidekick, is Santana, an average girl who finds art as her escape and passion. As was with my last book ‘The Smoke Hunter‘and its leading lady, Santana too has a cocky confidence in the beginning. She looses a scholarship causing her to be confused about her future choices and there our story begins. She takes up the offer of being a hero’s sidekick. As for the nature of her job- it requires for her to run around the neighborhood in spandex costumes chasing and figuring out Ribaldi’s plan. It is a well paying job, to say the least. While she is at it, it give her a new characteristic – courage.
Call her ‘S’ or better Whisper!
The guy who considers himself to be the hero (Ethereal) with complete belief and dedication, running around in spandex, trying to help people. After being halfway through the story you may even wonder if the guy is damaged and delusional, or if he is really a hero. But more often than not, we see him accusing innocent people while at other times we see his brave and yet lousy attempt at heroism acts. Even though for most part he is a dedicated character to his art, there are times when we see him break character for emotions. There will be parts where you may laugh out loud, cross your fingers wishing he were a real hero or bang your head at his stupidity and embarrassment but in the end, it is just an act and he always comes through.
Also, this hero has a cat named, Gato!
The villain we see from Damien’s (Ethereal’s) perspective is a mastermind, planning something big. For the most part we come to believe this to be his imagination but then the character comes to life and Santana is stumped. There is a chase, there are minions, there looks like a grand plan cooking in a warehouse and a fantastic woman. But, in the end, it turns out that the character was only in Damien’s head and Santana’s friend Brit blew it to life in order to stop her friend from quitting the role play of heroism.
As evil as Ribaldi is shown to be, most of her set ups turn out to be harmless in the end.
While we have discussed the story line and major characters, there is huge chunk of this story which is formed by Santana’s other life, her real family. For the most part, I felt as if the character of her mom was picked out from all our lives. We all have such people in our lives and god save us if it is one of our parents.
We see as her mom persistently continues convincing Santana to choose a well paying major/college/job to support herself. The only problem with her plan seems to be that it doesn’t lead to happiness but money only. While she may not be wrong, her method and path only show us a defeated personality in Santana’s older sister, who already seems to be walking it.
Moreover, her father is shown to be the exact opposite of her mother and supports her through and through with a practical perspective to keep her daughter realistic and grounded. Her family discussion about career and life are some of the most relate-able parts in the story as most of us have face these choices in life and stood on a fork where people have said that ‘a hobby is only as good as a hobby and will never pay well’. The opening of the story is a straight example of the same.
There is no romance in this story; no false hopes. Plenty of laughter though, and courage! There are flipping glimpses in the story that keep us conflicted until the end- whether the whole hero drama is real or not?!
Irrespective of the end, the courage shown by teenagers while helping an old man, trying to rescue dogs, catching a shoplifter, stand up to an uptight lady, straight up apologizing to a store manager and more is commendable. Even though half of the preceding mentioned tasks were totally stupid and unnecessary, they would put pride and laughter in your eyes, all at once. For the strength and goodwill portrayed, they were, Almost Heroes!
P.S – Reminds me of a few movies that loosely portray similar characters.