Reviews

Not Your Sidekick

Author: C.B. Lee29904219

Publisher: Duet Books

Publication Date: 8. September 2016

Rating: 4./5. Stars

Diversity: LGBT Characters (bisexual, trans man), PoC (mixed race Chinese and Vietnamese)

Summary: Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

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As a huge fan of superheroes myself, I often see how hard it can be to find superhero stories that have a diverse cast. If you are also searching for this, you will definitely find it here. And I can promise you that it is very well done. Featuring a biracial bisexual lead character, a cute romance, a trans side character and many superheroes and -villains, this book was a super fun read.

What impressed me most about this book, was the fun and easy-to-read way it was written. It is not a dark and gritty superhero novel, with death and destruction everywhere. Instead, it is really uplifting and simply a joy to read. Even when bad things happen, there is still friendship and family and trust in yourself and considering the fact that marginalized groups rarely ever get this kind of representation, I absolutely adored this book.

Sadly, the world building sometimes comes off as a bit weak (why are they fighting again? I mean the war is over, who do they need to convince? I just don’t get it!) and predictable superhero tropes are used quite a bit, which I can understand on the one hand, but which also dimmed my enjoyment of this book slightly. But I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

I adored Jess and her story. At times I wish she would not have developed powers as it would have been amazing to see the main character in a superhero world and family without any powers, but that is my only problem with Jess. Other than that I love her so much. She feels weird sometimes in her family due to her not having developed superpowers yet, she feels weird due to her mixed race, which makes her feel as if she doesn’t really fit in with either group, she only has a few friends in school and also used to be bullied for being bisexual. Despite all of this, the story never sinks into melodrama. There is always this upbeat feeling in it and it’s just so much fun!

Another amazing thing about this book were the side characters. Bells – who is now getting his own story, ahh I’m excited – the best friend, a super amazing trans character and also really awesome. Or Abby, the hot cheerleader, who is actually really sweet and also super badass. And robots! Cute little robots that clean your house and beep at you and they have names, oh god, I love those robots.

One of my favorite things about this book however how they destroyed superhero/supervillain dichotomies. If you think you know what a superhero is and what a supervillain, think again! If you like stories about corrupt governments, this is for you.

All in all, this is a wonderfully fun story about superheroes, dismantling some of the things you think you know about them, it is about a group of kids, who are struggling to find their place in a world that is corrupt and weird, it is about friendship and family and cute little robots. It is funny and light-hearted despite dealing well with hard topics. It is diverse and very nice. So if you don’t mind to suspend your disbelief a few times at a few really obvious plot twists and villain monologues, this will definitely be an amazing book for you to read.

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