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Book Review

Book Cover

Saving Charlie (Hardback)


Author: Aury Wallington
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $24.00
ISBN: 978 1 846 07556 8
Available 15 May 2008

Hiro Nakamura possesses the remarkable power to control time. And like his uniquely blessed comrades, he's on a mission for the good of humankind. But another challenge awaits him: saving the love of his life from an unspeakable death. Charlene "Charlie" Andrews is the big hearted, small-town beauty whose sunny smile and sweet soul have knocked the shy Hiro head over heels. But when Charlie's young life is snuffed out by a grisly serial killer, their budding romance is brutally cut short. Or is it...?

In this original novel based on the TV series Heroes, Hiro takes centre stage as he embarks on a deeply personal quest that will test the limits of his gift, the depth of his love, and the ultimate strength of his will. Thanks to his astounding newfound skill, Hiro has the means to do what no tradegy-striken lover in history ever could - turn back time. He vows to deliver Charlie from the evil poised to claim her. He will be her hero.

Saving Charlie takes a plot narrative from the show's first season and lets fans of the series experience a part of the storyline which they didn't see on the screen. The Hiro story arc that runs through episodes 8-10 (Seven Minutes to Midnight, Homecoming and Six Months Ago) of the TV series, sees Hiro witness the death of a waitress, called Charlie, in a Texan diner. The two had formed a brief friendship as Charlie was eager to try out her Japanese on someone who actually spoke the language.

However, on the same day that the two meet, Charlie is killed by Sylar. Hiro decides that she was too nice a person to die like that, and heads back to the past to rescue her. The plan is simple. All he has to do is travel back one day and tell her not to come into work tomorrow. However, that doesn't work out as planned - as Hiro is still trying to control his power - and he manages to accidentally travel six months into the past.

I doubt I'll be spoiling much here, as this book is unlikely to appeal to anyone who hasn't seen the TV series, and as such fans will already know the final outcome. At it's heart Saving Charlie is an exploration of the relationship between Hiro and Charlie. In the episodes we know that the two have spent time together but still, when Charlie reveals her big secret to Hiro it seems a little too rushed. So now fans can find out a lot more about what the two get up to in the months they are together.

To be honest, I'm not sure how much of a life this series of books will have. As this novel illustrates, it's not overly easy to write an additional plotline that has not been explored on the show. The writers can't venture into the characters pasts, as this will no doubt be tackled in future episodes of the show. And, as the characters and storylines are ongoing without any real break, writing a story that fits in between the action you see on screen is also going to be difficult.

Saving Charlie is different because firstly it involves a character that was introduced and killed off over the course of three episodes. Future books will no doubt feature more on characters that have only made fleeting appearance on the show before being killed. For example, it will be simple to centre on stories that examine the lives of characters like Sylar's first victim, Brian Davis (portrayed on the show by David Berman, who also plays CSI's David "Super Dave" Phillips). But it will be almost impossible to write a story revolving around the main characters.

Okay, it's anorak time now I'm afraid. I did have a few issues with this book, but none of them spoiled my enjoyment of what is a fantastic read.

Firstly, towards the end of the book, Charlie uses Lloyd's credit card to book hotel accommodation. She explains to Hiro that it's okay, because her and Lloyd have an understanding about using each others money when necessary. Yet in the episode Seven Minutes to Midnight Charlie is showing off her memory talent to the Sheriff and Lloyd by answering various trivia questions. She gets them all right and then says: "If you really want to test me, you wanna ask me if I remember your credit card numbers". Both Lloyd and the Sheriff look shocked by this statement. Now it could be that Lloyd and Charlie just allow each other to borrow money and don't know each other's credit card details, but this is never really explained.

In another section Charlie wants to see the Joos van Cleve at the Alte Pinakothek. Hiro's response ("The who at what now?") seemed a little out of place. This sounds more like an Americans response than a Japanese tourist with a limited grasp of English.

Also in the episode Homecoming, Ando spots the picture of Hiro and Charlie on the diner wall and asks the waitress, Lynette, when it was taken and where Hiro is now. Lynette says: "He disappeared weeks ago". As Hiro and Charlie come back from Japan in order for Charlie to go back to work wouldn't Lynette have asked Charlie where Hiro was? Would Charlie have lied and said she hadn't seen him for weeks?

There's also the fact that in the TV series Charlie already knows about her medical problem and it's hinted that she's known about if for some time (she says she's never been close enough to anyone to tell them), whereas she discovers it while she's with Hiro in the book.

I wasn't particularly a fan of Hiro's erection problems, nor the section of the book in which he seemed to leap through time and space randomly causing more and more problems - these leaps seemed more like they were included to pad out the story.

On the plus side there are a number of interesting additions that make this book fun.

In particular there's a Star Trek in-joke that revolves around the young Hiro's bedroom. Hiro's father frowns in distaste at Hiro's Star Trek posters - of course everyone knows that George Takei not only played Hiro's father, but also played Sulu in the original Star Trek series.

Then there's the numerous different versions of Hiro all hiding away in various motel rooms all over the town, awaiting their moment so that they can rejoin the timeline and get back to Charlie.

And the most touching moment comes at the end of the book. In the TV series we see Hiro return, to met Ando, with an orange paper crane in his hands. It means very little in the show, but when viewed after reading the book that scene takes on a whole new meaning.

At the end of the day this is a remarkably well written and entertaining book. After reading I was compelled to rewatch the TV series episodes to see if the book enhanced the TV episodes much - and it did... in spades!

This book is being released in a hardback and paperback format - both retailing at the same price. If you can track it down, the hardback edition is much better value for money.

If you're a big fan of Heroes then this book will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the Charlie/Hiro story line from the TV series.


Darren Rea

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