Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions is dripping with the neon nostalgia of the 1980s as we remember, or at least as modern media will never let us forget.
Either way, this book is perhaps the most Eighties thing I have, or perhaps ever will, picked up. And let me not forget to mention that the advertising campaign included a single from Stan Bush. Yeah, that Stan Bush! But The Touch aside, I dare you to pick up this book written by two Anthony’s – Rapino and Grate.
When life supplies 11-year-old Tommy Grant with some unfavorable circumstances intruding on his otherwise tranquil life in 1980s Ohio, he retreats into the spell-binding Order of Cosmic Champions. When he discovers that the largely successful animated program and toy line is holding a nationwide “Create-A-Character” contest where applicants submit their action figure designs, Tommy knows he has to enter as surely as he knows his own name.
But when Tommy’s character design fails to win the contest, he finds his world crumbling from all sides. And there is only one way he knows to fix it.
What follows is a whirlwind coming-of-age adventure of righting wrongs, overcoming perilous obstacles, confronting our inner demons, and challenging the limits of reality.
This book will hit you right in the nostalgia. If you, like me, are just old enough to remember the 1980s, there are parts of this book that will have you reliving your own past. If you’ve only ever known the Eighties as the backdrop for Stranger Things and other recent pop mediums, you still won’t be disappointed.
The references come fast and furious, as does the adolescent angst we all once had, but it’s not out of place or forced. It’s part of the world that some of us once inhabited. Despite the sometimes harrowing experiences of our hero, you want to be friends with him. For me, at least, I wanted to spend a little more time with some of the supporting characters as well, including Miranda and Matty.
This book is listed under teen and young adult fiction, but in truth, it’s for everyone. If you are a child of the Eighties or have children now, this book is for you as much as it is for them.
To illustrate the point, I’ll use one quote from the end of the book that will not spoil anything, but rather gives an idea of the kind of thing you’re about to get into.
“He thought this might be what growing up was like. Having both worries and joys flitting around your brain simultaneously and still managing to keep your wits about you.”
Perhaps the level of truth buried in this will depend on your grasp of reality, sanity, and other such things, but I find that if this is where the book ends, it must be quite the rad ride to come to such a conclusion, don’t you think?
Tease your hair and grab some quarters for the arcade. Then go buy this book, crank up some Rush, and read the whole thing like you forgot about it in a summer reading assignment. You’ll be happy you did: we could all use an escape every now and then, and going back to our past isn’t the worst idea sometimes.