This Is Not the Book You’re Looking For

sky_high*Jedi hand wave*

This isn’t a question I’ve had often, but it has come up more than a couple times so I figured I’d address it pretty plainly so that anyone picking up Crimson Son isn’t disappointed. Or mortified. Or tempted to troll me because of the vocabulary I inadvertently taught their young child.

Disney didn’t write this book.

I’ve had several people make the comparison between Crimson Son and the 2005 movie Sky High. These were all people that hadn’t read the book, naturally, and the comparison is there. This isn’t a logical leap from somewhere beyond planet ten.

Spencer is the powerless son of the world’s most powerful superhero….that’s where the similarity ends.  On the surface, a comparison does make some sense. Until you read the book.

If you took Fantasia, a bit of Swiss Family Robinson, blended it with that single part of the Sky High premise, then gave it a pair of balls, you -might- get something like Crimson Son. Maybe. Not sure.

True, Disney bought out Marvel (and Star Wars…) so they do have a few flicks now that are a bit closer in tone. If you take Guardians of the Galaxy double up on the more thoughtful scenes, scale back a bit on the action and snark (just a tiny bit), you’d get something close to Crimson Son. Spencer could totally be Starlord in a universe where he’d been kidnapped by aliens as a boy. Just sayin’.

Another important difference is that Crimson Son skirts the edge of YA and NA. (NA for anyone who doesn’t know is New Adult  which has been sort of co-opted to mean sex in college dorm rooms, I think). Themes of coming of age and both learning to live with and without your family are all incorporated into a trippy, exciting narrative.

Oh, and four letter words. Enough that I’d probably earn an “R” rating and I’m not aware of any “R” rated Disney stuff (though that whole Bambi’s mom getting shot thing should have come with a warning label of some kind…)

However, the biggest difference with Sky High is extremely important to me and is woven deeply into the message of the book.

This could be a spoiler.

Possibly.

I mean, I’m pretty clear about this.

The blurb. Interviews. All the stuff I write here regarding the book.

Last chance to turn back…

Spencer has no powers.

Seriously. Says it right there on the back of the book: Powerless. And I one hundred percent mean that. There is no last second manifestation of the ability to fly as he falls off a skyscraper. No moment where a bullet hits him in the chest and he wakes up with the slug all pancaked between his scrawny pecs. Nothing. Nada.

This is where Sky High fails. And where a million other YA novels fail. They are about kids who need to use special powers to solve their problems.

Yeah, it’s fantasy. It’s escapism. I mean, I’m a forty year old dude that plays role playing games – I get all that, trust me. However, it has always seemed to me to be a complete cop-out when a story builds on the fact that the protagonist has to rely on nothing but their own wits to survive in a world that is so much bigger than they are and at the last minute, they manifest some glorious power and save the day.

Why can’t they save the day without laser vision and super strength?

Because here’s the deal – you total can.

Normal people do amazing things everyday.

3 thoughts on “This Is Not the Book You’re Looking For

  1. Gerald Warfield

    And this is a totally excellent comment! Maybe kids could learn something about solving life’s bigger-than-they-are problems without a magic ring, a cloak of invisibility, or a unicorn that glows in the dark.

    • Russ Linton

      Precisely, Gerald. Thanks for dropping by!

      And while Spencer is an unlikely role model to teach that lesson, I like to think that’s what makes the story compelling – he’s real. He’s somebody anyone struggling with adulthood (or who has done so) can relate to. There is no power or prophecy that says he can do the things he does, but he tries anyway. He makes mistakes, relies on friends at crucial moments and even just flat out gets lucky. A dose of reality sprinkled in my fantasy 🙂

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