Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common—but not for Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers when an internship for Andover’s resident super villain allows her to work alongside her longtime crush Abby and helps her unravel a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
I loved, loved, loved this book so much. It had its serious, cliff-hanger moments, but for most of it I was either laughing, smiling or awwwing. C.B. Lee has given us such an enjoyable and fresh superhero-based story with a twist that all comic book lovers and regular book lovers a like will love with Not Your Sidekick.
Told mainly through the perspective of Jessica Tran, a 16 and 3/4 year old who considers herself to be just an averaged high school junior, forced to live in the shadows of both her superhero parents and older sister. But in an interesting turn of events, Jess unknowingly finds herself smack dab in the center of the superhero and villain drama after accepting a seemingly ordinary internship position at a promising robotics company.
To add even more excitement to the story, Jess ends up working side by side with her high school mega crush, Abby Jones, as they work under the supervision of a mysterious figure, M, in a robotics suit. (Which is absolutely hilarious and awkward. See the excerpt below).
And I also enjoyed the fact that despite, the light-hardheartedness, comically and realistically self aware, slap-stick humor, some of the narrative reflected upon the imposition and distracting nature that pop culture can have on our society when it comes to real life events happening that seems to go unnoticed due to the mass of celebrity gossip and what not. Intentionally or unintended, I loved it.
What was also perfect about the way that the narrative is set up is the fact that the reader finds out, along with Jess, that things are not as they appear to be in the tiny, modest city of Andover or in the super hero/villain world she’s grown up in. There was just so much to love about this book, from Jess’ own self discovery, her quirky parents and younger brother, the cheesy superhero one-liners, and don’t even get me started on the 1000 scale marker of how cute the budding romance between Jess and Abby was. ❤ ❤ ❤ I loved all of their scenes together and loved reading along as the two of them grew closer.
And Jess has such a great support group with her two closest friends, Emma and Bells that just warms my heart. And there were a number of reveals that had my jaw dropping, but I don’t want to give too much else away. ^__^ If you love reading books that have a great balance of humor, action, superheros and villains, mystery and even a bit of dystonia, Not Your Sidekick is the perfect book for you.
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His eyes glowing, he stands in the doorway. Master Mischief’s mechanical armor clanks as he steps into the room. The faded “M M” logo is blistered in purple paint on his chest.
Jess’ brain stutters. Has he figured out her parents’ secret identity? Is this is a kidnapping? A ruse to draw her parents out? She steps back and grabs for the pepper spray in her backpack, but that’ll be little help. Mischief is blocking the only exit.
He’s not an A-class villain, but Jess has never met any villain in the flesh. Despite all the funny T-shirts and silly videos of Mischief, and despite Jess’ arguments that some of what he does isn’t villainous at all, it’s hard to shake off years and years of seeing villains do terrible and destructive things in the news.
And now a villain stands in front of her; his electronic suit crackles with power.
Mischief can manipulate tech, but what is he’s doing here, in the heart of Monroe Industries? He’s certainly in his element. Anything electronic that isn’t too complicated, he can manipulate and control for a limited time. Jess has seen him direct cars to rebel against their owners and reprogram traffic lights and signs and computers.
Jess swallows and stands her ground. He’s silly. He mostly does harmless pranks. He’s ridiculous, not scary.
But it’s one thing to casually joke about villains and another to see one in person.
“I know we were deliberately vague in the job listing and interview, but I hope you understand why we needed the utmost discretion,” Mischief says. The voice is a little different than what she remembers, but that could be her imagination. It’s more electronic—is that a thing?
“Master Mischief?” Jess asks.
Mischief tilts his head; he almost fills the doorframe. But Mischief is quite a few inches shorter than Mistress Mischief, and the difference is always exaggerated in the comics.
He looks taller than Jess, and the suit—she can see black fabric at the knees under the metal armor, as if it doesn’t quite fit. And the logo is old, too; this version of the suit hasn’t been seen for at least a year. “What’s going on here?” Jess asks. “Why do you have Master Mischief’s mecha-suit?”
“Ah, I see you figured that out. I’m M, by the way. Nice to meet you.”
“Who are you?” Jess demands. “Do you actually work for Monroe Industries?”
“I’m not Master Mischief, that’s for sure. But yes, he works for Monroe Industries, and I do too. I was his assistant—am his assistant. He’s busy at the moment, and I’m running his lab in the interim.” M folds his arms and tilts his head and lights flicker without a discernible pattern on his helmet’s front panel. “You can laugh now. Villains need jobs too.”
Jess doesn’t laugh. It makes sense, actually. Mischief’s power of technological manipulation would be incredibly handy here; if his meta-powers weren’t low-level he’d be a formidable and almost unstoppable villain. As it is, he can’t use his powers for longer than probably twenty minutes at the most before he has to recharge, just like her parents. “If you’re his assistant, why don’t you have your own suit? What do you do exactly? And is this internship with Monroe Industries or with you and Master Mischief?”
M shakes his head, and makes a noise that almost sounds like a laugh before it is garbled into electronic static.
“I’m wearing an old prototype of his suit because we’ve been incredibly busy working on other projects. New mecha-suits aren’t a priority right now. And yes, you will be working for Monroe Industries, in a subsidiary with special interests. If that’s something you’re still interested in?” M asks.
“This isn’t a kidnapping, is it?”
The panel on M’s helmet blinks various shades of orange, and he throws up his hands. “No, no, absolutely not,” M says. “We wouldn’t kidnap you, do you—do you want to leave?”
About The Author:
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, C.B. was named to Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.
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Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my review. Hope you go and pick up Not Your Sidekick for yourself.
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