Series : The Sidekicks Squad #1
Publisher : Duet Books
Genre : Young Adult | Science Fiction
Page Count: 283
Synopsis : 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. (From Goodreads)
I’ve had this book on my TBR for the best part of a year because it’s one of my friend cw’s favorite books and she’s always raving about how good it is, I also got the ebook around a couple months ago and while I was planning to pick it up right away, it’s safe to say I got distracted but I finally read it and I DO NOT REGRET IT. It is so so good, such a fun, quick read that has important underlaying themes and I adored that about it.
The writing is fairly simple, it takes nothing to get into it, it’s light, fast and just right for the book. It starts off pretty infodumpey in the first chapter or so but that quickly changes when that “base” is set and the world building flows much more nicely, I didn’t even feel myself learning new things about this post WWIII world until I found myself knowing everything I need to know and that is… the opposite of how I was feeling in that first chapter. The whole superhero/supervillain concept is fairly popular, and used in plainty books and consumable media in general, but the way the author goes about it here is quite frankly a breath of fresh air.
The superheros/villains are meta-humans who got their powers after a nuclear flair and all of it is related to genetics which was awesome because it makes sense since nuclear radiations change humans on a genetic level (it mutates DNA sequences… I’ll stop the doctor talk now, I promise). They’re also pretty common but not all equal, some can use their powers for less than an hour a day while some can use them the whole day and it was definitely interesting to see that play out in battles, confrontations and such.
The plot itself picks up later in the novel which I didn’t really mind at all because 1/ I loved the build-up to the romance, and the girls getting to know each other, 2/ The focus on the friendship was awesome and 3/ The book is hella entertaining even before Jess discovers anything and it all turns South. Once that’s happens, everything happens so fast, the pace picks up and a real sense of danger starts looming over the characters and my brain started going “WHAT IS THIS BETRAYAL” because before that everything was cute and funny and now the whole world is in danger.
The story is very predictable, probably the most predictable thing I’ve ever read haha, but it’s obvious that it’s done on purpose and I don’t know why but I actually loved that, it makes everything funnier because the reader knows but Jess doesn’t know, especially when it comes to her work and romance situation, she makes a fool out of herself more times than one which was adorable but also hilarious. To summarize it all, Not Your Sidekick doesn’t take itself too seriously. And this is what I meant by that tag line, on the outside, it’s all predictability and fun but it actually manages to deal with a few things and C. B. Lee does so greatly.
First off, in a passage, the author explores Jess’s bicultural identity (she’s chinese and vietnamese), that feeling of not completely belonging on either side but wanting to so bad, she also tackles racism when a certain someone start talking about Jess’ parents as “lesser” because they’re not white. Then, throughout the whole novel and as the MC uncovers the schemes, she explores the definition of being heroes/villains and how it’s often a lot more complicated than the black and white way we all see it, and how it’s also a matter of perception and how people aren’t always who we think they are.
Now to the characters, they are so freaking great. I loved every single one of them, or at least… the ones I am supposed to love. Jess is such an amazing, well fleshed out main character. She’s funny, cynical, strong but still has a lot of insecurities that stem from growing up in the shadow of not only her older sister who has powers but her younger brother as well who is a “genius”. And the best thing about it all was her character development and how she was able to break out of that shadow and become her own person, being true to herself and her values. Bonus point os for the actual use of “bisexual” to describe her sexuality. Seeing it on page is great.
Abby, her love interest is adorable as well. She has this whole facade of miss popularity (not the mean girl kind, but the kind who is loved by everyone) but underneath it she’s such a genuinely sweet and caring person who would do anything for the people she loves. Their romance MADE MY HEART MELT. It’s so cute and innocent and it just gives me all the heart eyes, I loved the awkwardness of the start and presumably unrequited crush, then the easy banter of the middle and to end it all, the flirty teasy banter of once they both know they have feelings for each other. Their relationship’s evolution feels so natural because none of it is forced and it’s just… *happy sigh* It made me genuinely happy.
Jess’s best friends are equally awesome. Emma is latina and Bell is a black trans boy, and all three of them make such a strong friends’ group and when Abby joins them she just fits perfectly. It was equally cute and infuriating to see Bell navigate his crush on Emma who gets a crush on a different guy every week and is completely clueless. The second book Not Your Villain is from his point of view so I’m SUPER excited to read that one, I got approved for an eArc of it so that will be happening soon and I cannot wait.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Not Your Sidekick? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.