The Chowderhead Crusades
Clayton had been given (taken) to the Labor Loaner program since his parents had died (been murdered), so he was now an Orph (short for orphan). He was basically slave labor aboard a spaceship helping Luthor Norman mine Normanium from a far off planet and bring it back to Earth. It’s rough up there, but he’s a Chowderhead sharing a mission with people all over Earth in search of clues to complete a puzzle for riches untold…or at least some great technology. Years before, Cateklysm Catholicon visited Earth during a Comic-Con to urge people to turn to the traits of their favorite superheroes to solve a three-part contest. Clayton hoped to continue the work of his parents after their deaths and solve the puzzle, but there wasn’t much time allowed for personal research, nor does anyone share, because the prize is so coveted. When he and Arthur, another Orph who was hiding a big secret, get caught in an explosion, Luthor Norman himself comes to interrogate Clayton about the crystals formed. Clayton and Arthur figure out that Luthor knows far more than he lets on, so the friends come up with a plan to follow Norman’s progress, but it’s so outrageous and full of holes, it can’t possibly work. However, they have no choice—he cannot be the one to reach the end!
Superhero lore forms the basis for the scavenger hunt—so many references to favorites, like Iron Man, Red Skull, Wonder Woman (yes, the female superheroes are here, too!) and more—will enchant any reader who loves the Marvel and DC universes. Walsh has even created slang for the Chowderheads, with endnotes to explain their origins. It’s a great big nod to the popular superhero movies of late, combined with the idea behind Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Dialogue between Clayton and his friend, Arthur, and between his love interest, Cassie, is funny, witty, charming—all the hallmarks of a great story. Their good-natured arguing and ribbing of each other provide comic relief as the story hits dark moments and strengthens their friendship in times of trial. The conclusion is as shocking as it is ruthless, but satisfying, too, wrapping up subplots that could have been forgotten, providing closure to a well-woven tale. Want romance? Got it. Want firepower and explosions? Got it! Want friends who have each other’s backs? Got that, too! This has something for every reader. Though lengthy, every page is needed for the skillful world and character-building to bring this story to its final conclusion.
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