“The Urban Boys” follows five friends in high school who, after one night in a preserve their families have forbidden them from going into, are gifted with heightened senses in order to protect a luminous supernatural race, and by proxy, all of mankind. But for such high stakes, the boys thankfully can save mankind by simply protecting their idyllic town from the evil-doers that have taken over a neighboring town. Stuck in a conflict that has been simmering for twenty years, it’s up to these five friends to keep strong, and save their town when no one else is capable of doing so. This is a story that attempts to cover a lot, especially with such a large cast of characters, and it’s a book I think is far better suited for middle-grade book lovers. If you go into it with that mindset, I think you’ll enjoy the “Urban Boys” a great deal.
The core of this story is all about the perseverance of these five friends as they come together and battle to protect the things they love the most. The writing is both simple and full of prose that I think younger readers will really gravitate toward as the author does a great job of telling the reader what they need to know as the boys’ experience new things. There are themes of “coming of age” as the boys figure out how to carve their own path in life, both through high school, and beyond, all set to a mildly supernatural setting. The telling of what is happening and the, sometimes, simple and repetitive writing style works well for younger audiences, but if you read this as a YA book (which is natural given the age of the main characters) I don’t think those elements work as well.
The sheer size of the cast of characters in this book is a bit too much for the length of the story. Not only do you have the five main characters, but we also get the POV of siblings, parents, and significant others with new characters being introduced late in the book as well. It made it hard for me to really connect to any of the characters, and sometimes could not keep them apart as they tend to blend together, which isn’t helped when the POV character changes paragraph to paragraph in some instances. Each boy is supposed to have a heightened sense but we rarely see that as it takes a backseat to the more traditional fighting the boys do to clean up the streets of these towns. The stakes aren’t well defined outside of the boy’s being told they have to protect this light being in order to save mankind, but the story is laser focused on just these towns and the big bad’s desire to punish his family for not loving him more. And for all the details we get about the town, we get very little in regards to the supernatural elements. So, between that and just a large cast that blurred together, I’m giving this book 3 stars. Again, I think it’s best suited for fans of middle-grade superhero fiction, but ultimately, I think I was expecting something a little different, because I thought the premise really did sound fascinating. And thanks to Literary Bound Tours and the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review!
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