Book Review – Death of a Superhero by Anthony McCarten

Hello everyone,

We’re not done, only three more! So I found out about this book by the movie, like Fierce People and I come back to this movie from time to time just because Thomas Sangster’s acting is astonishing and this was where I found the sibling duo band, Angus & Julia Stone. Anyways, here we go!

McCarten, Anthony. Death of a Superhero. Alma Books. 2007. 247 p. 1846880238.

Genre: Realistic Fiction


Death of a Superhero tells the story of a troubled teen named Donald Delpe. Not only is he your average sex-crazed, music junkie, and the occasional druggie, he has a life-threatening form of leukemia. And before you turn away from this post as you go comparing it to The Fault in Our Stars and every other “teen-dying-of-cancer” YA novel, give this one a chance. Donald has given up on himself and knows he is going to die from this illness but he finds himself in his alter-ego, a superhero he’s created who goes by the name of MiracleMan who’s superpower is indestructibility. Donald struggles with suicidal tendencies but finds comfort in comics and his own comic he’s created that stars MiracleMan. His parents who are obviously worried about him assign him to a psychiatrist named Dr. Adrian King, who Donald uses to lash out all his anger against but King understands him and takes it all. They end up developing a mutual understanding as King explores his own past issues and eventually agrees to help Donald with his last wish, which you will find out when you read the book (thought I’d spoil it, did you?).

So as expected, this book will hit you with feels. It’s basically how you think it ends but the journey is worth it and getting to know Donald is worth the time to read this. But what’s cool is that this book is written like a screenplay for a film. Yup, you heard me. Like a screenplay and as a screenwriter, this was an adventure that I just had to explore. It’s split into three acts but it’s written like a screenplay, a comic, and a novel. I know, it sounds confusing but you quickly get the hang of it. Since Donald is a fan of comics, you see little things that resemble a comic. Donald is your average sassy, sarcastic, dying teenager but in the end, if you were that age (or if you are) imagine what it would be like. To have your life cut so short in front of you, it’s really not fair and I don’t know about you but I would be angry too. Angry at everyone, angry at myself for not living to the fullest in the past, and most of all, scared. And that’s how Donald is so I don’t want you guys to just disregard this book because it hits on one of the biggest tropes of YA literature in this decade. It looks at leukemia and gives it a big middle finger and Donald’s final wish is certainly not something that A Fault in Our Stars ends with. It gives an honest look at a teenager who is dying and who’s life is incomplete.

Teaching Ideas:

I’m going to be honest with you guys. If I found this book in a school library I would be very surprised. It’s possible some schools might have banned this from their libraries. So this book would definitely be an individual reading book because it deals with “inappropriate” themes, so if a student wanted to do a project on this book, I’d probably just check with their parents if this book would be okay but I mean, if A Catcher in the Rye could get away with all of that, I’m sure this book can too. I think for this book, character analyzation is important (as it always is for me) and the overall theme for this book. I think there are multiple themes and messages that McCarten wants his readers to think about. One of them being, what is meaning of true happiness when you have such little time to pursue it? And I think teenagers, healthy or sick, can relate a lot to Donald and his troubles as McCarten doesn’t shy away from such normal teenage topics.

Rating: 8.5/10

I hope you all enjoyed this book review! Next book will be on…. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, another tearjerker, yay!


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