Publication date : June 1st, 2019
Publisher : Duet Books | Interlude Press
Genre : Young Adult | Science fiction
Page Count: 320
Synopsis : Emma Robledo has a few more responsibilities that the usual high school senior, but then again, she and her friends have left school to lead a fractured Resistance movement against a corrupt Heroes League of Heroes. Emma is the only member of a supercharged team without powers, she isn’t always taken seriously. A natural leader, Emma is determined to win this battle, and when that’s done, get back to school. As the Resistance moves to challenge the League, Emma realizes where her place is in this fight: at the front.
*I received an Arc of this book from the publisher for the blog tour, this has in no way affected my opinion*
CW: sci-fi violence, off page minor character death, internal shame though aroace questioning.
(Spoilers for the first two books)
If you’ve been following my blog for a couple years you know how much I adore THE SIDEKICK SQUAD, I started up loving Not you Sidekick and then fell more in love with this series through Bells’ perspective in Not your Villain. So imagine my delight when I got accepted to be part of the blog tour for Not you Backup, the next installment I’ve been eagerly waiting on for the past two years, especially since we discover at the end of the second book that Emma, the main character in this one, is aroace questioning.
The writing is simple (in a good way), flows very smoothly and matches the fun but still serious tone of the book perfectly, just like with its predecessors. Although I must say that with each book, I’ve loved Lee’s writing a bit more, so this one was my favourite in that aspect. Not your Backup picks up right after the events of Not your Villain with Emma & our superheros regrouping in a safe house and trying to get as many people to join the resistance as they can, from Emma’s perspective of course, and what makes her different is that whereas our two previous protagonists have powers, Emma is absolutely and completely normal.
And…I loved that. It was really refreshing to see that even without having any extraordinary abilities, Emma was irreplaceable for the team. This books shows that anyone can make a change if only they put their mind to it. Emma is a born leader, strong, fierce, outspoken and not afraid to take charge and tell people who needs to do what, and make them listen to her without them feeling like she’s bossing them around. Like any good leader really. In the past two books, we see Emma as this super popular, confident and bubbly latinx girl who is smart, charismatic, flirty and can make friends easily. But in this book that’s all about her, we see that there’s more to her than what meets the eye, a whole other side of her that is mostly inside her brain. She’s a perfectionist who’s quite hard on herself and absolutely hates failure. But what makes up a non negligible part of this book is the fact that she’s aroace questioning.
And as an aromantic spectrum person, I found that exploration incredibly well done. Granted, I haven’t read many books with aromantic representation, but out of the few I’ve read, this one was the closest to my own experiences and thought processes. Not a perfect match, but the questioning part was spot on. I saw so much of the girl I was a couple years ago in Emma, the girl who didn’t really feel comfortable in romantic relationships, like an ill fitting jacket (a comparison made in the book as well), the girl who wondered more than once if anything was wrong with her because I just couldn’t make myself stay feel comfortable and stay long in relationships because they became at some point things I dreaded.
I’m getting a bit personal but all of this to say that Emma was, in many ways, me. And I will forever cherish this book for that. I cannot speak on the ace representation but it was handled in the same ways the aro rep was so I’m assuming it’s great as well. Because it not only allowed Emma to explore her feelings and orientation, it also made space for people across the aroace spectrum to feel seen and welcome through a conversation Emma has with Bells’ brother, the gist of which was that no matter where you are in the spectrum you’re valid.
Now I want to talk about the one thing that bugged me about the book, and that unfortunately made it my least favourite in the series (still pretty good though, OKAY? READ THE SERIES!). It’s the fact that this very much felt like a filler book. It had a good start and a phenomenal ending but the middle of it just…dragged for me, and not much happened through it. Which is understandable because Emma is kind if shut out but that doesn’t make for the most entertaining reading material, especially with how fast paced the two previous installments were, it was quite a drastic change. There was a lot of waiting around, driving long distances and trying to get people to agree on a plan in this book.
That being said, the discussions on socio-political issues were better than ever. I know I was just complaining but I really liked seeing the Resistance grow and gain more ground even while they struggle and hit some road blocks. I loved the continuing discussion on good vs evil that started in Not Your Villain. And I also loved seeing how easily governments can twist the truth, or hide, or manipulating to fit their agenda and still look innocent to the public eye. Because that’s kinda terrifying and happening in quite a few places around the world as we speak, and how even though a majority pick up on that manipulation, not everyone does and those people who keep believing in corrupt people in power can stir trouble.
We didn’t see much of the other characters since they were separated more often than not, besides Bells. Who’s forever the national treasure he was set up to be in the previous book. He loves and supports Emma so unconditionally and just wants her to be happy and safe and AAAHHH! He’s so amazing. Still my favourite character in the series. I also want to mention something, without wanting to be presumptuous, Abby, who was the love interest in Not you Sidekick and will be the main character in Not you Hero (the 4th book) seems to be going through a manic episode. The word in never used as no one really knows what going on with her, but all the signs are there and I’m fairly curious to how that will play out and be handled in the book that’s all about her.
This series is so so good and so so diverse and rich and timely while still being fun, funny and quick to read, and on the lighter sci-fi side. So I’d recommend anyone who’s looking for that to read it. And I honestly cannot wait to continue on with it ESPECIALLY WITH HOW THIS ONE ENDED!!
Buy the book
Interlude Press | Mysterious Galaxy | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Book Depository
About the author
CB Lee is a Lambda Literary Award nominated writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her works include the Sidekick Squad series (Duet Books), Ben 10 (Boom!), and All Out Now (HarperTeen). CB loves to write about queer teens, magic, superheroes, and the power of friendship.
Lee’s work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Wired Magazine, and Hypable. Lee’s first novel in the Sidekick Squad series, Not Your Sidekick was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. Seven Tears at High Tide was the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Speculative Fiction categories.
Many thanks CW for hosting this blog tour, here’s the tour schedule:
CW @ The Quiet Pond (Introduction)
Harker @ The Hermit Librarian (NYB Review + Quotes/Who Would I Be in CB’s World?)
Shari @ Colour Me Read (NYS Review + Illustration)
Fadwa @ Word Wonders (NYB Review + Aesthetic)
Ceillie @ Let’s Fox About It (NYB Review + Character Interview)
Avery @ The Book Deviant (NYB Review)
1st June [NYB RELEASE DAY]
Rita @ Bookish Rita (NYB Review + Quiz/Aesthetic)
Laura @ Green Tea & Paperbacks (NYB Review + Creative Post)
Lili @ Utopia State of Mind (NYB Review + Handlettering)
Nicky @ Small Queer, Big Opinions (Trilogy Review)
Kait @ Kaitlyn Gosiaco (NYB Review + Author Interview/Aesthetic)
Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN AMERICA (NYB Review)
Janani @ The Shrinkette (Trilogy Review)
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Not your Backup? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.