Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad #2)
Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.
After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Between college applications and crushing on his best friend, will Bells have time to take down a corrupt government?
Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.
I loved this book so much that I had trouble putting it down. I feel like I talked about how C.B. Lee gives the reader a conventional and non-conventional narrative atmosphere last time, but just in case I didn’t, I think readers of this book will love, as I did, the way theme of love and friendship are blended into the story with this amazing amount of ease that you almost forget you are reading a story.
The main characters are just so relatable. I can usually tell when I’m reading a story even if I am really into a book, but not when it comes to the Sidekick Squad series. From start to finish, the narrative incorporates a consistent and present bubble of humor, honesty, progressive relatability, acceptance, love AND excitement!
Reading this book you get so swept up in the funny, cute and friendship “aww” moments that when the action starts you’re just as shook as the rest of the characters!
At least that is how I felt. I love when books keep surprising you because it gives you the opportunity to never be bored with surprises and adventures in every single chapter.
As it is told from the perspective of Not Your Sidekick’s original trio member, Bells, Not Your Villain covers Bells’ personal life both inside and outside of his home, from his time with training at the super secret meta-humans camp, from his more than friendship feelings for his close friend Emma and the end of ‘normal’ life in Andover when his two worlds suddenly collide.
We get to see a lot of new faces as well as old faces in this sequel and we also get to see other vastly different locations around the country so unlike Andover, but very beautiful. Moreover, the reader gets to learn some more backstory in regards to some of the loose ends book one left us with when it comes to the Heroes and Villains’ Guilds, the history of the meta-human gene and our favorite characters.
Besides getting to see basically a fresh version of the first book with Not Your Villain, I loved how the author gives the reader this kind of twist to things where Bells is concerned. I remembered how the story unfolded in book one, but reliving it (in a way) this time around it made me feel like I was reading a new and different story as we see it through Bells’ eyes.
Though he struggles with his new role as an outcasted hero when the Heroes Association turns on him, I still wished I could have a fraction of the amount of his character’s strength, resilience, and bravery. All of the members of the Sidekick Squad are kick-ass in their own right, but Bells????!
Literally, sets himself up on his own map.
From the determination he holds onto when it comes to protecting others and those closest to him, his ever growing and endearing love for his best friend Emma and the confidence and strength he’s carried his entire life as a transgender teenager that gave him even more inner strength in expanding his powers readers will just be in awe of him. It’s no wonder everyone loves Bells, and I mean like everyone. At school, at the training camp, at home, just everyone!
I could rant about this book and series even more, but I’m going to wrap up my review of Not Your Villain by simply saying it is an exciting, lovable, highly enjoyable and addictive narrative with both complex and comedic characters that will [again] make you fall in love with this series. If you haven’t checked it out yet, go and do so now! ^-^
If that wasn’t enough of an incentive for you, check out this exclusive excerpt from Not Your Villain:
Bells’ mouth falls open, and then he quickly shuts it and reacts on instinct. “Me? Superpowers? No, why would you ask that? I totally don’t.”
He takes a step back, glancing at Jess for an explanation, and then back at Abby. Jess’ hair is sticking out in all directions. Windswept, Bells’ mind supplies, as if they were flying.
“Well, that’s too bad,” Abby says, and then just levitates, right on his porch. She’s lucky the Broussard home is hidden.
Bells is about to pull them both inside when she demonstrates even more powers, completely altering the solartech porch light. The metal and wires and circuits reassemble themselves, folding around the glass and reforming into a flower, and Bells… Bells has never seen anything like this. His brain is still trying to process the sheer power of it.
“I’m a meta-human,” Abby says. No kidding. Abby glances at Jess and then back at Bells. “I’m thinking there are three of us here standing here. Am I right?”
“Three?” Bells repeats. Jess looks at him, fidgeting. “We should talk somewhere private.”
Bells leads them to his bedroom. Abby’s suit clanks with each step, and Bells shakes his head in disbelief. He’s in shock, but a huge part of him is excited to share his secret.
There’s an official Heroes’ League of Heroes Guide holobook still projected over Bells’ desk: a detail he should be scrambling to put away before his friends enter the room, but today is different. Bells watches Jess’ eyes flit to the book and take in all the files Bells left open.
What is she going to think about him being Chameleon all this time?
Bells can feel his hair changing, and a quick glance in the mirror confirms the slight shift from green to turquoise. He hasn’t lost his concentration like this in years. It’s the shock, he tells himself. Just take a deep breath and get that control back.
There isn’t any point in denying his powers now, and Bells doesn’t want to. He takes a deep breath, then exhales. “I’ve been altering myself ever since I learned how. It’s just a part of who I am.”
Jess embraces him without saying anything. Relief floods through Bells; she understands. It’s as if a weight has been lifted off his chest.
At first, talking to Jess and Abby about being Chameleon and his hero work these past few months is fun, and he gets to joke about rescuing the cats. He learns that Abby secretly designs MonRobots for her dad, Phillip Monroe, and Bells is really impressed because he loves those robots. Even learning that Jess’ parents are Smasher and Shockwave is incredibly thrilling, and discovering that Abby’s parents are the Mischiefs is totally surprising, but then the conversation takes a wild turn.
“The League is kidnapping villains,” Abby says slowly, watching for his response. “Captain Orion kidnapped my parents.”
“Wait, what?” Bells frowns. Something at the back of his mind clicks in place. Tree Frog. Plasmaman. The Mischiefs. But they just were all captured, right?
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C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer based in California. She is a first-generation Asian American and holds a BA in sociology and environmental science, which occasionally comes in handy in her chosen career, but not usually. Lee enjoys reading, hiking, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits.
Not Your Sidekick (2016) was named a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards. Lee’s first novel, Seven Tears at High Tide (2015), was also a Bisexual Book Awards finalist. She is a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow.
Thank you all so much for stopping by and checking out my review.
Until the next post,