Book: Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad 1) by C.B. Lee
Release Date: September 8th 2016
Tags: Dystopia / Superheroes / Supernatural / Young Adult / Diversity / POC / Bisexual / Present Tense
Rating: 3,5 out of 5 stars
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.
This was a book that I was really looking forward to when I got it as it came highly praised. Saying I was disappointment is too big but I did have higher expectations of this book. However it did deliver on the diverse and character front.
The first thing that really struck me when I started this book was the third person point of view in present. I cannot recall having read a third person point of view in present tense before and it threw me quite a bit. It didn’t really work for me. I kept changing the present tense to past tense in my head as I read and that was rather distracting. So the writing style doesn’t quite work for me.
As you can tell from the title, this story is about super heroes and is set in a dystopia type of setting but it doesn’t quite feel like that. Jess, our main character, is the daughter of the resident superheroes of the city. But she does not seem to be developing any superhero powers, unlike her sister. She end up taking an internship with the city’s villain which launches her into a scheme that is a lot bigger than just her city.
The story is quite compelling. The idea of the daughter of super heroes going to work for their enemy is quite appealing. The whole of it is a bit cuter than the synopsis makes it sound though as these villains more do pranks than really bad villain things. It also plays out the stereotype about how there is always a superhero and a big villain across from them. So I did enjoy the story. But some of the plot twists and surprised were a bit too easy to guess for me. It wasn’t quite so subtle. Even so, it did not bother me that much.
I do think the world building was done well. I had a reasonable good idea of the world and what happened after world war 3. There were some brief explanations but I hope that this will be deepened out as the series continues. I also really liked how the superhero powers had their limits and levels. It made a lot of sense that not everyone could use their powers for the same length of time and that certain powers would not be so appreciated as others.
But what really made this book worth the read were the characters. There is a great diversity amongst the cast. Jess, our main character, is Vietnamese and Chinese and also bisexual and offers up a great narrative into bicultural identity. She was a delight to follow along. Her love interest, Abby, was a great addition to her and they matched so well. Their romance was obvious from the start, and was very vanilla, but I think that what made it so cute to follow. But to me the ones that stuck out the most were Bells and Jess’ little brother. Bells is a trans poc and I just loved his humor and character. Her younger brother is a bit of a prodigy and has a tiny crush on Bells which is quite endearing.
I love the interactions of these characters. They had their ups and downs but there was never any question on whether or not they would support each other.
Overall Not Your Sidekick is a great and fast diverse read.