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Kevin Ross doesn’t think he’s a hero. He just happened to be in an alley near the library when Leah was almost raped and murdered by a notorious serial killer, The Surgeon. True, Kevin did attack the assailant from behind and hold him until the police came. Sure, his life is forever changed, with the media camped out everywhere and reporters looking to interview him. But he doesn’t want anyone to know what he was doing in that alley in the first place.

To say that Kevin is unpopular is putting it mildly. His friends call themselves the Council of Fools, complete with their own Charter, and have nicknames like Jedi, Tit and Speedo. Flip and his girlfriend Fam are the ringleaders, and all meet in the janitor’s office with a secret key when they’re cutting classes. They do mischief around the school, like breaking into the grades database and improving athletes’ marks --- things that make no sense.

Life at home is not much better. Kevin’s parents divorced, and his mother took his brother Jesse to California to live with her new girlfriend. His father has a secret military past from the first Gulf War that no one can ever talk about, and as he works most nights, there is not much chance to talk to him anyway.

Notoriety gets to Kevin at school. It’s great that Leah is noticing him and inviting him to her party, but he’s still uncomfortable in the spotlight. It’s not just his severe acne, or the fact that none of Leah’s friends have ever spoken to him before. It’s that he no longer knows who he is.

The Mayor gives Kevin a “key” to the town, and with it, a used car from his lot. He puts magnetic ribbons on the vehicle supporting the military, but Kevin’s father demands that he take them off, saying they are useless symbols that do not help the troops in any way. That act gets photographed and put in the paper, and suddenly Kevin goes from hero to loser. Everyone wants to know why he doesn’t support the military, or why he is “un-American.”

Kevin knows that supporting the military is about more than putting magnets on cars, and he starts asking teachers, the administration and other students to think about the meaning of rituals. He begins to research how people really support the troops, and when a popular, handsome student debates back, Kevin sees how image can gloss over words and meaning. 

Similar to the plot in Avi’s NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, Kevin’s ideas and debate ignite huge reaction in the school and town. The Council of Fools intends to pull some large-scale pranks to make points, but that grows beyond Kevin’s plan and control.

Just as he begins to question rituals that no one else does, Kevin explores who he is and why he does things. For the first time, he asks his father about his past and his mother about her move. Then he asks himself who he was and who he wants to be in the future.

HERO-TYPE takes an unpopular boy from instant popularity to maturity. This is a great book for discussion and consideration, which is just what Kevin would have wanted.


Reviewed by Amy Alessio on October 18, 2011

by Barry Lyga

  • Publication Date: September 22, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
  • ISBN-10: 0547076630
  • ISBN-13: 9780547076638