Summary: A late night adventure in one of Marty’s grandfather’s classic cars and old outfits changes the lives of best friends Marty and Bill when they end up foiling the escape of a couple of bank robbers. Unknown to them the whole incident was filmed and ends up going viral on YouTube, introducing them to the world as Nothing Man and the Purple Zero, real live superheroes fighting crime in the small town of Faireville. Feeling as though greatness has been thrust upon them, Marty and Bill are up to the challenge, patrolling Faireville’s streets at night looking for crimes to stop heady with their initial success. Joined by Elizabeth and her superhero identity, ObserverX, the trio soon find themselves in over their heads when they come up against the town’s drug dealer.
Number of Pages: 212
Age Range: 13-15
Review: I haven’t laughed so hard since I read Vicki Grant’s books.
Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook is larger-than-life and imaginative, but at its heart it carries an important message for teens: that anyone can be a hero.
I loved it because in Scarsbrook’s book, being a superhero is all a matter of perspective. In reality, Bill and Marty stopping the bank robbers in their tracks was the result of a series of very fortunate coincidences, but in the video created by Elizabeth, it appears as though they both have super powers.
And after growing up being at the bottom of the pack, the oddballs in a small town, it’s a welcome change. Suddenly they are admired by others, even though they have to keep their true identities a secret. Being a superhero gives Bill the confidence to ask Elizabeth out, and Marty the confidence to profess his love for Bill. What begins as an innocent car ride in fun costumes ends up changing their lives and shaking up Faireville in a good way.
Plus, it was funny. Scarsbrook pulls off humour and heart in a story that is well-paced with a satisfying ending. It’s a bit hard to pin down age range for readers, because while it does seem geared for younger teens there is swearing, physical violence with weapons, bullying and the characters themselves are seniors in high school. The romance aspect makes it work for both male and female readers.
After some of the books I’ve been reading it was quite refreshing that Bill and Elizabeth were a great role model for a positive romantic relationship. I also appreciated that Bill wasn’t a jerk when Marty professed his love. Although he was understandably shocked, he didn’t physically attack Marty, call him names, or end their friendship. Even though Marty reminded me a bit of Owen Meany with his DRAMATIC VOICE, Bill was definitely my favourite character because he really was the unsung hero.
It’s a fun read, and I enjoyed how the confrontation with the bad guys ended. I would recommend it for young to mid teens and reluctant readers.
“‘Some are born great,
some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.'” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene V) from Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook
“Alas, romancing a woman is nothing like rebuilding a carburetor or sharpening the blades on a field mower, so the Mystery of How to Approach Elizabeth Murphy remains unsolved.” – Bill from Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook, page 44
“Bill Brown has never been a man of words; he has always been a man of action.
When Elizabeth was riding her Big Wheel tricycle down the street, and she fell off and skinned her knee, he brought her three things: a Band-Aid for her knee, which was bleeding, a glass of lemonade for her throat, which was raw from crying, and an owl-shaped animal cookie for her heart, because somehow he knew that she loved owls.” – Bill from Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook, page 138
“‘Actually,’ the Purple Zero says, glancing over his shoulder at Nothing Man and Observer X, ‘they’re defaming Mr. Beauregard, not slandering him. Defamation is when you write a malicious, false, and defamatory statement; slander is when you say it. Remember from Law class?’
‘Indeed,’ says Nothing Man. ‘I’m surprised that you remember though, since you barely passed Law.’
The Purple Zero shrugs. ‘Just because I choke on tests, it doesn’t mean that I’m not smart.'” – Conversation between the Purple Zero and Nothing Man from Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook, pages 171-172
“So, who will be the heroes, then?
You. Me. Any of us.
When the circumstances call for it, any one of us can be a hero. A superhero, even.
Greatness can be thrust upon anyone, at any time, on any day.” – from Nothing Man and the Purple Zero by Richard Scarsbrook, page 210