Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Published by Duet Books on September 8, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Superheroes
Pages: 283 Format: Paperback Source: Library
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.
Being a fan of superheroes and comics I’m always excited to see them make the jump into novel format. So when I heard about Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee with it’s wonderful characters and great representation in terms of both sexuality and race, I knew I immediately needed to pick it up.
Honestly this book kind of reminded me of the movie Sky High with it’s adorkable heroes and villains, hilarious names and all. The worldbuilding was top notch laying out a dystopian world in need of saving and the plot while a little predictable fit perfectly. The futuristic robots and holos were an extremely cool bonus.
Hello amazing characters! Jess is an average daughter in a family full of superstars trying to find her place in the world. Her friends, Bells and Emma, are with her every step of the way, supportive as well as teasing. Plus Jess is finally getting to know Abby, her crush and now coworker. Plus there’s massive family dynamics at play.
It was great to see diversity so well represented here especially in a superhero story. From Jess’ entire family being Chinese-Vietnamese to Bells being POC, there’s so much exploration of identity. Not to mention the amazing LGBTQIA+ rep all over these pages. Jess is bisexual, exploring an F/F romance with her crush and Bells is a trans boy. It’s so casual and well done.
I did have a couple issues with this one, mostly to do with the writing style. I struggled to be fully engaged, feeling disconnected with the story. The narration was difficult to get into and while the story was definitely cute it came off as too simple, like it was written for a younger audience.
Overall C.B. Lee’s Not Your Sidekick was an enjoyable read but I felt a disconnect from the writing. The characters totally pulled me through though and I’m excited to see what happens to our heroes/villains next. I’d definitely recommend this to the superhero lovers out there and those looking for excellent diverse representation.
Have you read Not Your Sidekick? Enjoy seeing superheroes outside the comic format?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!