Thursday, July 21, 2016

Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape - Book 2: Rise of the Robot Army

I couldn't think of a better book to read in celebration of my 100th blog post than the second book of the series that I started off this blog with - Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape!  It's hard to believe that I've read 100 books/graphic novels/short-lived comic series/audio books within the span of just under a year (having started the blog back at the beginning of August 2015) - guess I didn't realize just how much reading I do in my life!  LOL - of course, I wouldn't change that for anything, as not only does reading take me away from the awful realities of this life sometimes, but it entertains me, relaxes me, inspires me, incites me, and more often than not, encourages me.  And while this blog was partially started as a way for me to keep track of what I read and have a place where I can go back and remind myself of what some of these books/comics were about (because at my age, after so long, I can remember reading a book but not necessarily what it was all about), but I hope the blog has grown into more than that, and that it also provides a place where people can get recommendations on new series to try or books to avoid altogether!

But enough of my pontificating - let's take a look at Miles Taylor's latest adventure...

When last we left this insecure seventh-grader, he was just coming to terms with the fact that he had been given a gift of unbelievable responsibility - the golden cape that allows him to become the world's one and only superhero - Gilded.  Now, as we begin this second great adventure, a year has passed.  Summer is over, and Miles has spent the summer saving lives and helping those in need.  He has spent the summer months learning what he can do with the cape and finding that with that power comes a great deal of adoration.  Something he has never received as plain, ol' Miles Taylor.  Something that becomes more than painfully clear the first day he steps into school for eighth grade and comes face-to-face with Craig "Jammer" Log - the school bully and Miles' greatest nemesis.

Miles wishes he could put on the cape and show everyone, particularly Jammer, just what he is capable of.  But he can't.  The cape can only be used for good, to help others.  It can never be used for self-interest.  Which Miles realizes is not fair.  As Gilded, he is adored, loved, and idolized.  As Miles, he is a nobody.  And this starts Miles' journey into self-discovery about what it truly means to be a hero - that it's not just the super-powers that makes the man.

Author Robert Venditti tackles an important issue that faces so many pre-teens - what it feels like to be a nobody.  To wonder if you will ever amount to anything. To wonder what it would be like to be popular, to have everyone like you, to have people want to be around you, to have others look up to you.  And what if you have that opportunity, but you can never tell anyone about it?  Venditti takes poor Miles through the wringer, but he definitely comes out a better person (and character) for it.

And, as with any good super hero story, there's a villain, this time in the form of General Breckenridge.  Nearly a Lex Luthor archetype, Breckenridge believes he is saving the world when he tracks down and captures Gilded, an alien that he sees as a threat to the world at large.  When he discovers that Gilded is actually just a child, who has an even smaller child as his co-hort, it doesn't stop him from kidnapping them both and holding them prisoner in an underground facility.  While he does his best to determine how the cape works, Miles and his best friend, Henry, discover they are not alone.  In an adjoining cell is Lenore, a fourteen year old girl with a secret of her own.  One that will definitely change all of their lives forever (and I'm not just saying that!).

As with the first book, there are graphic-novel-style pages within the story, where we switch from prose story to comic-book story, and the black and white art by Dusty Higgins is full of action and fun, and the panels tell the story just as well as the words do in the remainder of the book.  It's a great combination and adds to the enjoyment of reading the book.

Weighing in at 300 pages, Venditti proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that children's books do not need to be short and "dumbed down" in order for kids to read them.  The Miles Taylor books have great characterization, super superhero storytelling, and always leave you wanting for more.  No word on whether there will be a third book in the series, but I'll definitely be keeping my eye out and my fingers crossed!

RATING:  10 skipping stones out of 10 for telling a fantastic superhero story unlike any other!

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