Friday, November 17

Batgirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer borrowed this book from the library. The opinions expressed are his and no monetary compensation was offered to him by the author or publisher. He's still waiting to hear back about that side-kick position. Cover art is copyright Random House Books for Young Readers.

Barbara Gordon wants nothing more than to be a superhero. When she gets a formal invitation to join Super Hero High – as Batgirl – her dreams are realised. Now all she has to do is prove herself to her peers, her father and herself.

This is the third book in the Super Hero High series, but you don't have to read them in order. I didn't. Barbara is an intelligent girl and a tech wiz, so a lot of the novel revolves around ingenuity and technology. There is also a real bat in the book! I liked that – but for all Babs' creativity, she isn't great at naming things. Batty? Come on. Robin Williams already claimed that one.

Then there's Barbara's father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, who is not happy about his daughter attending Super Hero High because it's "dangerous." Please. Gotham City is a cesspool. It doesn't help matters that Batman apparently doesn't exist. Metropolis is less crime-infested, full of superheroes, and Babs can learn to defend herself from professionals. He has no case. Except for "feelings." Apparently daddy-feelings are a valid argument.

I do not understand why Jim has a part-time job teaching at Super Hero High. He and Barbara have to commute to and from Gotham and Metropolis. Is Commissioner a flexible position? It obviously doesn't pay well.

Batgirl plays to the "lone wolf"(lone bat?) persona that comes with the cowl. She doesn't like it when her friends defend her. She thinks it means they see her as weak or incapable. Never fear! She is not doomed to be a tortured soul like Wayne. The Super Hero High books are all about the friendships.

There were a couple of moments when I thought that maybe, maybe Batman was out there. But he really doesn't seem to exist in this universe. It's great that this young version of Batgirl can stand strong with an origin all her own. But...BRUCE! What became of you? I fear we may never know.

There are some cunning moments with Batgirl. Yes, she is intelligent and an over-achiever, but she is more than just a reluctant teacher's pet! There is a glorious moment when Batgirl utilises crisis negotiation tactics to manipulate others to get what she wants. I loved it.

Batgirl's best friend, Supergirl, makes for questionable support. She keeps pestering Babs with things like "Aren't you stressed/nervous?" What is wrong with this girl? Keep a little bit of your hot mess to yourself! Miraculously these things do not seem to faze Batgirl – and when she does need a genuine pep talk, Supergirl delivers.

A character pairing I had not considered previously was Batgirl and Cyborg. They have a good dynamic, with both being all about the technology stuff. I was not sure if they had smoochy-smoochy potential, or if I was just reading into this. So far the only hint of romance is the reciprocated crush between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor...and they just stare and stutter at each other. It's awkward.

'Batgirl at Super Hero High' is narrated by Mae Whitman, who voices the character in the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon. The novel is self-contained and ties up nicely, but the epilogue includes a cliff-hanger for the next novel, 'Katana at Super Hero High.' Sneaky!

No comments: