Flame-girl is the debut young-adult superhero novel from 19-year-old Cormackstown author, Laura-Louise Slattery and has been received well by young-adult readers and kids alike.
Laura is a past pupil of Presentation Secondary in Thurles and is currently studying at Templemore College in preparation for her journalism course in University Limerick which she hopes to take up in September.
The book was released September, 2012 by the Xlibris Publishing House. It was featured at the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books last March at the University of Arizona and was also seen on display at the 2012 Comic-Con International held in San Diego. Flame-Girl has received mostly positive reviews from critics. Many young readers have posted their opinions on the book on the popular book website Goodreads.com, saying the book was ‘an amazing read’, calling Flame-Girl their ‘new favourite superhero’.
Flame-Girl details the story of a young sixteen-year-old teenage girl named Sunny Andrews who obtains strange pyrokinetic superpowers from an old volcanic meteorite. As the novel progresses, Sunny discovers she can create and control fire strictly by thought. Her other abilities include heat vision, melting objects and boiling liquids in order to heat them up. Sunny makes a reckless decision to use her new superpowers to fight crime after the town of Saltville becomes inflicted with a disease called ‘crime’.
Upon creating a costume and donning an orange wig, Sunny begins to fight crime as the superhero ‘Flame-Girl’, using her superhuman powers and superior combat skills to battle the worst Saltville has to offer. Her depiction as a heroine fighting for justice, love and peace has led Flame-Girl to being considered ‘a very strong female protagonist’ by most readers.
The main character, Sunny Andrews, is described as a cheerleader who attends Parkview High School in Saltville with her two best friends, Trevor Jordan and Sarah McKinley. Like in most American high schools, there is always a mean queen. In this novel, the mean queen is Natalie Newman, the head cheerleader who always seems to have time to cause trouble for Sunny. Flame-Girl’s love interest is Kale Taylor, a brooding artist who develops a crush on Sunny’s alter-ego after she saves his life.
The book contains a whole range of characters to love and hate, but the one character to look out for is, of course, the villain of the story: The Face Thief. Many bloggers and reviewers have described The Face Thief to be ‘the perfect villain’. He is a character a lot of people can relate to as he has everything dear to him taken away from him in the blink of an eye. Throughout the course of the novel, the Face Thief is portrayed as a highly intelligent master criminal with a dark sadistic sense of humour. The Face Thief has been repeatedly analyzed by critics as the perfect adversary to Flame-Girl; their dynamic relationship often parallels the concept of ‘yin and yang’.
Overall, Flame-Girl is a compelling read. It is a story many young teenage readers can relate to. Avoiding the major superhero clichés, the story concentrates more on the difficulties of being a teenager in the modern age. It focuses on what one has to achieve to become a true hero and what it means to be a hero.