Note: Heat Wave is the third book in T.J. Klune’s The Extraordinaries series and follows directly after Flash Fire. As such, this book and review will have spoilers from some of the events earlier in the series.
It’s summer vacation and Nick Bell, along with his boyfriend, Seth, and their best friends, Jazz and Gibby, are trying to move forward after the big battle during prom. But even as they try to enjoy the break, things are changing for the group, as Gibby has graduated, and they aren’t even sure if Seth will be allowed back into school now that everyone knows he is Pyro Storm. But their even bigger problem is dealing with Simon and Owen Burke. Owen has escaped from the hospital and no one knows where he is or what trouble he may be causing. And his father, Simon, is running for mayor of Nova City on an anti-Extraordinary platform. They know that Simon has an agenda, particularly as Owen revealed Simon has been making pills to give people super powers. But while Simon’s end game may be unclear, everyone knows there is trouble coming.
The time for the final showdown is approaching. Nick is training to enhance his powers and learn more about being an Extraordinary. The four teens are focused on figuring out all they can about what the Burkes may be up to. And they have the help of their families, who are now all in the know about the situation, plus what looks to be an unlikely ally — if they can be trusted. Now, Nick, Seth, and the rest of the gang are ready to battle for the safety of Nova City, freedom for the Extraordinaries, and for their very lives.
Heat Wave brings to a conclusion The Extraordinaries trilogy and ties up the story that spans the three books. This is a series where you need to start from the beginning, as the storyline follows pretty closely from one book to the next. Here we set the stage for the final battle with Simon Burke, a battle that has been a long time coming given all we have learned about his past, particularly as it intertwines with Nick’s family. But more than that, Simon is gaining in power as he runs for mayor and is inciting a lot of anti-Extraordinary hatred. As with the other two books, this story mixes the personal with Nick and Seth’s relationship, as well as their friends and family, and combines it with some big battles and exciting revelations. Things tie up really nicely here on all fronts, and Klune does a great job pulling the series together, bringing in a lot of threads from the trilogy for this final book.
One of my favorite parts of this series is the relationships — the romantic, the friendships, and the families. We see Nick and Seth have really grown in their relationship over the series. This is still a young adult story, and the sexual side of things is kept pretty PG. But there is definitely a sense of watching these two mature in their relationship throughout the books. I also continue to really love their friendship with Jazz and Gibby. These are some strong young women and even though they don’t have powers of their own, we see them being tough, brave, and intelligent. It is clear that their contributions to the quest are critical. But even more, I really love how these four love and care for each other, support one another, and make up a real team. We get a nice epilogue at the end that gives us a chance to see all four of them and their lives in the future and it is a rewarding ending.
I also enjoyed the way the story starts, as we get this slowly growing awareness that something is not quite right. As things develop, series readers will figure out pretty quickly what is wrong, but not why or what exactly is happening. It gives a nice sense of foreboding that all is not well and adds to the tension early on before we get into the thick of the big ending battle. That said, I think the area where this story suffers a little is in the pacing. As I said, it is clear to the reader fairly early in the book where the problem lies, way before it is clear to the characters themselves. I think this is intentional, as it builds that suspense as we wait for them all to realize something is wrong. But I think for the readers, the lack of clarity on what is actually happening and why lasts too long after we become aware of the problem. There is a build here that works early on, slowing growing this unease as we come to see the problem more clearly. But then it just takes too long to actually reveal what exactly is occurring and why. We gointo the book before we get answers, and it felt too long. I think the story needed to be tighter here early on to maintain that tension, rather than letting things drag on before they become clearer. Once we learn the truth, however, it is exciting and scary and emotional and it’s a great reveal. Which all leads really well then into the remainder of the story and the final showdown.
Overall, I have enjoyed this series. It is not without its issues, particularly with regard to the way the police are portrayed in the first book, and Klune makes a clear effort to address that in the second two books. I am a fan of superhero stories, and I enjoyed the way this one focuses on these two teen LGBTQ couples and how they work together to fight the evil in their city. If you enjoy superheroes, young adult stories, and a focus on the bonds of friendship, this series is worth checking out.