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Billy Hooten: Owlboy by Tom Sniegoski
Review by Drew Bittner
Yearling Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0440421802
Date: 24 July 2007 List Price $5.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The kickoff of a new series for young readers by Thomas E. Sniegoski (Fallen), this is the story of Billy Hooten who may be a hero -- if he isn't grounded by his folks or beaten up by the school bully first!

Billy Hooten is a weird kid. He likes giant robots, monster movies and comic books. Routinely tortured by the school bully (Randy Kulkowski), who names the bespectacled kid "Owlboy," Billy suffers the purgatory of all those who aren't sports stars, popular kids or filthy rich.

Until one day-- after managing to ditch Randy and his toady sidekick Mitchell, Billy hears a cry for help in the graveyard behind his house. He hurries to the rescue, only to find an odd little man menaced by a hulking piglike figure. More by accident than design, he saves the little fellow (who claims to be a goblin named Archebold) and learns that he is destined to be the next Owlboy, heroic protector of the underground Monstros City.

Billy does what any kid would. He runs for it.

But the call of adventure only grows stronger, so he seeks out Archebold and ventures into the subterranean realms of Monstros City. Once he's learned the way, he has the classic superhero dilemma: how to balance his ordinary life (being a kid with school and parents and bedtime) with the demands of his superheroic alter ego.

It isn't easy.

But with help from Archebold, his school friends, and a bunch of peculiar new acquaintances, Billy discovers his destiny, confronts his deepest fears, and learns that there's more to being a hero than putting on a cape and goggles.

Thomas Sniegoski conjures a delightful new hero with Billy Hooten, whose exploits as Owlboy are as superheroic as Spider-Man or Robin the Boy Wonder. He's sharp, not absurdly brave or foolhardy, applies common sense more than his literary peers seem to, and brings the reader through the hardships of trying to be a hero when you've always been the bully's favorite plaything.

Fans of fun, fast-paced adventure will find this book the start of something really great.

Strongly recommended.

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