FEATURED CREATURE: Natsinet the Nurse
“Remember…you’re under my care now.”
Natsinet: An ex-nurse who's tired and repulsed by all the patients at the city hospital. The patients who come in to the emergency room riddled with bullets and cuts from getting into some gang fight, the patients who come in wounded from particapating in drive-bys, the patients who come in overdosing on the latest drug. She's sick of it, sick of her city becoming a warzone. So she leaves the hospital (after "accidently" stitching a scapel into a wounded thug in the memorable prologue) and becomes a hospice worker, taking care of the elderly...
"You are entirely dependent on me now, to eat, to go to the bathroom, to get your medications, to wash your stinking black ass."
Adelle: A famed African-American civil rights activist who's fallen victim to a nasty stroke that leaves her incapacitated...and in need of a live-in nurse. Guess who she gets? Natsinet arrives and quickly establishes who's in charge--adding in the point that she hates black people, and especially hates Adelle for all her rights work. Like really, really hates her, to the point where in the span of a week, cattle prods, handguns, overdoses, blowtorches and any and every other means of general brutality will be used against an immobile Adelle who can't do anything to stop it.
"Your life depends on me."
The simplistic plot is aided by the strength of these two characters, and while all others tend to come off as sterotypes, the collaborators really flesh out their leads. Natsinet comes off as truly crazy, and while she sometimes slips into ridiculousness with her ranting, the reader is never taken out of the story--instead, it's more like watching a car crash--you just can't help but stare and keep reading. You truly care for Adelle, and you truly want her to make it out alive. The story also makes it a point to dig deeper into Natsinet's pysche rather than just call her racist, but I won't go into spoilers.
"You piss me off and by tomorrow you’re gonna wish I was dead."
I do have to bring in the elephant in the room though: yes, Stephen King's Misery is still a more effective novel. Instead of a crazed fan, it's a judgemental nurse--but the novel's slim 160 page size keep the reader from really digging too deep into all the character's motivations. The conclusion is also rushed to the point that we see it the bulk of the action from the point-of-view of a character on the ground who can't truly witness all the action, leaving the reader slightly underwhelmed. The novel is all a build-up to the ending smackdown, and we only get bits and pieces. Still, we get a touching (if slighty Lifetime-ish) epilogue, and a fitting end for our villian. (Although, if you didn't like the way Scream 4 stretched on into the hospital...) The novella moves quick and is overall a pretty entertaining read, complete with some fitting social commentary on race and gangs. White and Gonzalez don't really flex their splatterpunk muscles much here, but the book's just fine without it. (One scene does suddenly go over-the-top, but it's not so much it takes you out of the story.) Previously only available in an out-of-print edition, Hero is better than it should be, and provides ample entertainment for a few hours.
"By the end of the week, you’re gonna wish you were dead.”
Review By Vicente Garcia