book cover for Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Magan: Blaze (or Love in the Time of …) by Laurie Crompton

book cover for Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton (web | tweet)
Publication Date: February 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 309
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: superheroes, sexting, comic books, divorced parents
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thank you!)

Summary: Blaze retaliates against the boy, Mark, who uses her for sex by drawing and publishing a comic about their brief entanglement. Mark leaks a photo of Blaze in lingerie that ruins her reputation and causes her classmates to bully her.

Once upon a time, I was mere high school freshman. I had a crush on an older boy (Travis). My brother played pee-wee football on a team with Travis’ younger brother (whose name I cannot remember — odd, I know). I attended every practice and football game I could once this good-looking boy with perfect pearly white teeth, dimples, and a great laugh was introduced into my life. We talked. We flirted.

Fantasies looped through my mind about this gorgeous boy becoming my boyfriend. I thought about how I’d tell my friends when we started dating, what it would be like to kiss him, and my parents would tease me about my sudden interest in football.

Guys, I asked this boy to a dance. (Unfortunately, he was going with someone else by the time I struck up the nerve to ask. Can you say devastated? This was probably the first and last bold boy-move I ever made.)

Travis consumed my life…much like Blaze’s fascination with her younger brother’s soccer coach, Mark, who is a classmate of hers. Blaze is the offical chauffeur to and from practices and games for her brother and his best friends. Her mom is incredibly busy working long hours since their father skipped town to chase after a career as an actor. For a teenager, Blaze carries a ton of responsibility and often doubles as a secondary mother-figure. She doesn’t really mind sitting at the games because she works on her comics and admires Mark from behind her mirrored sunglasses.

She, too, makes up fantasies about this boy and wonders what it would be like to date him. (Reading this snapped me back to all my Travis fantasy days and oddly enough, I ran into his mother in the grocery store.) Blaze’s daydreams tended to be a bit more crude and sexually-charged than mine ever were — at one point pondering what Mark’s boy parts were like as she sees him running across the field. While I thought she would be a relatable character for me, there were a handful of these times that I really couldn’t connect with her. She is most definitely not a girly-girl — her interests lie in geeking out over superheroes and comics, both by creating/drawing her own and being a connoisseur of all things Marvel. She’s a bit nerdy and has a small social sphere.

When Blaze catches Mark’s attention, her obsession reaches a whole new level. She mentally inflates their relationship to be more than it is and things progress rapidly. Without so much as a real date, Blaze finds herself in the back of her minivan with Mark. (Which is where I must mention I was extremely put-off. While I know unprotected sex happens, I feel Crompton could have used this platform to address Mark’s “reputation” and the possibility of pregnancy and STDs when he is coaxing Blaze into having sex without a condom. Blaze was more concerned with him fondling her boobs.)

After their minivan tango, Mark refuses to reply to her texts, IMs, and barely makes eye contact with her. Blaze is forced to realize she’s been used, just as she’d been warned by her little brother. She seeks revenge by publishing a comic in which she outs Mark the Shark. In reply, Mark leaks a photo that goes viral of Blaze in barely-there pink lingerie. The story shifted gears here. There was bullying and how the kids at school were responding to the photo, a side story about her father, a spontaneous road trip, Blaze’s two best friends who were pretty crappy after the photo went public, and a new boy at the comic book store. There was so much to wrap up in such a short amount of time.

Ultimately, Blaze handled the whole bullying situation with a lot of grace; she said some things at the end that made me really proud. But, I needed more resolution with Mark and the viral photograph when unnecessary emphasis was placed on her father. Throughout the story, there were definite times I found Blaze’s character refreshing and she made me laugh out loud, but overall I wish there had been a bit more balance that undoubtedly would have made me feel more invested in her well-being and all the intermingled story lines.

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<<< Extra, Extra>>>

For those of you who may love comics, you’ll be excited to see some original artwork by Anne Cain within the pages of Blaze!  Below is a gorgeous example of some of the Blazing Goddess sketches you’ll see!

blaze by laurie boyle crompton - blazing godess sketches

© 2012 Anne Cain

Thank you to Sourcebooks for sharing Anne’s amazing sketches with us!

14 thoughts on “Magan: Blaze (or Love in the Time of …) by Laurie Crompton

  1. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Hmm I have issues with books that portray unprotected sex as not a big deal (or no deal at all)– especially when the target audience is teens. I get that this happens, but it still doesn’t make it ok. This books sounds like it had a lot going on. Not sure I’d be a fan of so much, ya know? Thanks for the honest review Magan.

  2. Bookworm1858 says:

    Yes, I was definitely disappointed about the unprotected sex scene, especially in this day and age. I really liked the brother though and thanks for sharing your somewhat similar experience with a crush.

  3. Sharon @ The Book Barbies says:

    I just saw this book the other day while walking through Barnes & Noble (for fun rather than work, for once), and it looked fun! I love the cover. Alas, after reading this review, I have realized that this story isn’t nearly as appealing to me as it may have seemed from the cover blurb. I may still pick it up eventually, but I will have more realistic expectations for what to expect. Thanks for the honest review.

    • Magan says:

      Sharon — yes, I think maybe going into it with realistic expectations will make the reading experience better. I can’t wait to see what you thought of it.
      Bookworm, I agree – the brother was a great, great character. Probably my favorite, to be honest! 🙂
      Ginger — it definitely could have used some fine-tuning and simplification. And I definitely feel someone should have done some editing on that sex scene.

  4. Renae @ Respiring Thoughts says:

    This almost reminds me of a Disney Channel movie that I saw when I was a kid—Read It and Weep, which was about a girl who’s comic strip about her alterego taking down school bullies leaked. (Or at least, I think that’s what it was about—it’s been YEARS.) Anyway, I think this sounds like an interesting take on teen bullying. It’s a shame, though, that it wasn’t handled quite as well as it could have been, and that the ending bits were rushed and cramped together more than you’d have liked, Magan.

  5. Kailia @ Reading the Best of the Best says:

    As a teenager who sees this happen WAY too many times (I’ve heard plenty of times from pregnant girls at school that they didn’t think one time of unprotected sex could result in pregnancy), I have to admit: I’m glad it made you uncomfortable. Maybe that was the authors purpose? I feel like instead of hiding it or making it more…PG 13, it was reality. While I can understand the whole rushed part-which is a shame- I can understand Blaze. I’ve met way to many girls like her. It is sad. Great review Megan!

    • Magan says:

      Kailia — I think the most frustrating part was that there was never any mention of repercussions. Like, there’s a momentary mention of something later, and then NO BIG DEAL. If she’s going to be so blatant about all of the sexual things, I wished that Crompton would have gone further with it. Talk about STDs or pregnancy and take it further. Make a point instead of just letting it hang. I’m not so upset about the unprotected sex as it just seemed unnecessary because nothing ever came of it. Does that make sense?

  6. Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) says:

    I’ve been seeing reviews similar to this out and about. I just won a copy of this book so I’ll probably highlight it on the blog during contemporary month but I have to admit that I have some reservations going into it. That sex scene, for one. And I’ve read that there aren’t very many repurcussions or punishments (?) for Mark the Shark for his behavior, which I find kind of not okay. Not sure I would want my girls picking up a book that deals with such big, scary, real issues in a sloppy way. (I don’t mean to judge harshly, but I do have kids and sometimes it affects how I read some of these issues books, ya know?)

    Great honest review, Magan. Love it.

    • Magan says:

      Asheley, you’re very right. Very little in the repercussions department for Mark. I think that’s a great way to think about books – would I want my kids to read this? And no, I don’t think this would be a very good example for them. Mark was disgraceful and Blaze wasn’t the best role model. 🙁

  7. Alexa Y. says:

    This book sounds interesting enough, and I do like that she loves comics (since that’s very rare in the books I read). However, I feel truly uncomfortable with the whole sex situation, especially because I totally do not believe having unprotected sex should be left unaddressed.

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