With Jess’s parents being Andover’s local heroes, and her sister being the most recent up and coming hero, Jess is desperate to show powers before her 17th birthday. When she doesn’t, her job search lands her an internship–but with Andover’s local villains.
Why this book?: I was looking for something fun, and I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve had this recommended to me.
Let me get this out of the way: no, this book doesn’t live up to the hype.
It surpasses it completely.
Not Your Sidekick is a fun YA that takes the general superhero idea, and adds a fun twist. Being a superhero is a genetic mutation, and it passes from parent to child, to varying degrees. Not only was this book a new look at the same-old-same-old superhero stories, but it was also hilarious, diverse, and realistic. The world building that Lee put obvious care and time into developed to show that something like this, with the right events happening, could actually happen. Lee did not skimp on the world building, but she also didn’t info-dump every chance she could get. I felt immediately comfortable in the world, and felt like I knew everything that Jess knew, like I was there beside her.
Maybe a reason the world was deeply familiar was because Lee wrote teenage characters exactly how teenagers would act. Lee’s characters felt authentically young, and I never felt like I was reading adults in teenager bodies. Despite that, the characters were all still enjoyable. The friendship between Jess, Emma, and Bells was something I see daily, as a teenager in high school, with all the added arguments, jokes, and relationships that come with it. Something else I thought was accurate was Jess and Abby’s relationship. It never felt over the top, and I never thought “what the f*ck, this does not happen”.
Also!!! I could not get over the representation infused into this book. Jess is biracial Vietnamese-Chinese, and I loved how she was proudly both, yet struggled with accepting herself as both. I also loved Bells, who is trans. And he isn’t trans-forthebenefitofdiversity but because Bells is Bells, and Bells is trans.
The plot, though, was another strong suit that this novel carried with pride. While the novel still had the high-stakes that any other book in this genre would have, it also didn’t miss out on the hilarities of the more comedic novels out there. Everything was taken seriously, yes, but there was also that silver lining of the ridiculousness of the antagonists.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
Not Your Sidekick was a relatable and hilarious teen novel that really spells out how it’s like to be a teenager, but with the added twist of there being superheroes. This was one of the few books where I had actual “fun!” while reading it. Not that the other books I read aren’t my cup of tea, but I’d never before could have described one of them as “fun!”. Does that make sense?
Would I Recommend?
Yes! Especially if you’re looking for a book to give you a good laugh. This one has the benefit of being both funny and inclusive, so you might see yourself while possibly having a good laugh.
Trigger warning for violence. (There was also a vague reference to outting the trans character. He is already ‘out’, but the threat was to reverse his transition.)
Published: September 8th, 2016
Publisher: Duet Books
Page Count: 283
Genre: Science Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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.