By Thelonius Legend

I host The Blerd Book Club on Goodreads, co-host Black Comics Chat on twitter and periodically provide reviews here, on Black Girl Nerds. One of my favorite up and coming writers is John Winston and his latest joint IA:Boss didn’t disappoint.

We are trapped by the obsession to find the next Harry Potter. It’s an unhealthy, distracting, and does no favors to JK Rowling or new writers trying to carve out their own identity. There is something so refreshing about Naz, the hero of IA Boss. He’s a coming-of-age hero in an urban setting that provides a new look to the usually paint by the numbers protagonists that dominant the YA genre. So while everyone else is waiting for the next Harry Potter, give IA Boss a spin. You won’t be disappointed.

Premise

In a continuation of the stellar IA: Initiate Naz’s abilities increase significantly as do the threats that he faces. But Naz’s threats aren’t challenges he faces as he attempts to save the world from a mad scientist or crazy magician. They are the mundane but deadly daily threats of walking his sister to the bus stop in a setting that is all too familiar to many urban dwellers in the US be it Chicago, Detroit, or Richmond. We also learn more about Naz’s past and his enigmatic Father as the author deftly uses flashbacks to provide a fuller picture of Naz’s history, so we can better understand his present. Naz is well on his way to being a super-hero in every since of the word. Unfortunately for him, that metamorphosis cannot happen without tragedy, loss, and betrayal.

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Verdict

John Winston crushed it. The saga of Naz put a new face and setting on the tired hero trope. It’s a bonus that he looks like me and lives in a setting like the one I grew up in. Am I biased? Definitely. I love reading Greek Mythologies, George RR Martin, and JK Rowling. But being able to see some a semblance of me on the pages of an epic hero journey is important. It matters. I have no idea what will become of Naz as he leaves the known for the unknown but I am invested for all those reasons and more. Best of luck Naz, I’m rooting for you.