Masks: Evolution by Hayden Thorne
While his friends continue to develop their newfound powers, Eric begins to feel the effects of being the odd man out. Around him, things go from bad to worse for Vintage City as the Shadow Puppet, a new super-villain, steps into the Devil’s Trill’s shoes and wreaks havoc with his army of killer mannequins. Magnifiman, Calais, and Spirit Wire have their hands full, with the Puppet proving to be much more slippery than the Trill and leaving the good guys scrambling for clues. Work-related stress begins to creep into Eric’s relationship with Peter, which reaches the breaking point when Peter takes a new superhero under his wing, a fire-wielding teenage girl, whose awesome powers could make her a better match for Peter.
To make matters worse, there are the strange headaches, sleepwalking, and nightmares that haunt Eric, as well as the Devil’s Trill’s call for him to take his place as a super-villain sidekick. There’s also Brenda Whitaker, her mysterious past, and her sudden desire to help Eric as he struggles to figure himself out and make the right choice before his parents ask him again about his awful Geometry and Chemistry grades. Can Eric handle the stress? Find out in this second book of the Masks trilogy.
In the second installment of the Masks series, Eric’s stress level is reaching new heights. He’s worried about his perpetually broke financial state, his problematic relationship with Peter, the new villain taking his friends’ time and the fact that no matter what he can’t seem to raise his grades in certain subjects. Convinced his headaches are the physical manifestation of all his stress, Eric struggles with inferiority and emotional outbursts as the normal one out. Although Peter tells Eric he loves him, the busy life of a superhero keeps Peter away and often edgy. When a new hero emerges and seems to have a deep connection with Peter, Eric’s insecurities and fears reach new heights.
The first book in the series is very light and pokes fun at the characters and situations in a youthful and often disaffected way. This story is darker and more emotional as the teenage angst and emo Eric experiences plays out for the majority of the book. Now Eric’s internal struggles and dramas are more evident and present as the main focus versus the action and excitement of crime fighting. Here Eric’s deepest fears and issues are examined. Imagine being back in high school and if that angst isn’t enough on its own, add an openly gay sexuality to the mix and then as the cherry – your boyfriend and fag hag both are super heroes while you’re stuck taking the garbage out and watching the latest news for updates. Eric struggles with his feelings and problems even as the growing chasm between he and his friends echoes wider. The often tumultuous youth is highlighted wonderfully as Eric jumps between despair over Peter and true love at the first sign of reconciliation. Eric’s narrative voice is intimate and engaging, allowing the reader to really connect with him, his emotions, and choices. This extends to allow the reader to sympathize and even agree with his choices, however difficult they may be.
The wonderful pacing and story is designed in such a way as to isolate Eric. Although some of the writing is inconsistent with the previous book, it’s difficult to focus on such an error when the entertaining and wonderfully engaging voice of the narrator pulls the reader into the story whenever slight errors may occur. In this particular story, Eric is more alone and often by himself. He has more internal musings and conversations, lending more emotion and drama to the teenager, but at the same time creating a setting that will be the climax to the series in part three. Therefore this book is very important as the bridge between books one and three and doesn’t stand-alone. It allows the reader to delve more deeply into Eric’s personality and the reasons for his choices and thought process. There’s a bit of a twist at the end that segways into the next book but I won’t spoil it for readers. However, this twist is important and Eric’s internal arguments and feelings of isolation become important in a larger scheme.
It’s hard to say if this book is better than the previous offering as this story is less about non-stop action and more character driven from Eric’s standpoint. Although the atmosphere deepens and the good versus evil battle still rages on between new villains and the heroes, Eric’s place in the battle starts to become clear. The wonderful voice of Eric shows his desire to be more than he is, whatever that means, and his desire to be closer and understand his place and future. Feelings and desires readers can easily and infinitely relate to at any age. The wonderful writing is rich and realistic, never talking down but instead giving life to the positive and negative drawbacks of teenagers. The self acknowledged emo angst and desire to stand out while desperately hoping that it’s not too far out. The humorous elements are expertly woven into the story once again with Eric’s none too subtle hormones, sexuality, and the running joke about a superhero handbook.
It’s difficult to talk too much due to the inherent spoilers, but this story is well worth reading and only enhances the already great series. The development of Eric and the various other characters as well as the city itself lends such a rich texture to the story that immediately sets this apart from other books. The comic book themes and fresh, evocative narrator vault this young adult story well above a particular genre or narrow definition. The often hilarious dialogue and descriptions lighten the more somber mood of the tale and fitting it perfectly in the continuation of the series. It’s not able to be read on its own, but don’t skip this offering in the series.
Get it HERE!