Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee. ★★★1/2
Not Your Sidekick is an adorable YA LGBT superhero story. Jess Tran’s parents are the resident superheroes of Andover, Nevada. Jess wants nothing more than to be a superhero herself, but unlike her gifted sister, she’s never manifested powers. Determined to try and make her own path in life nevertheless, she applies and is accepted for a prestigious internship… which turns out to be for the town super villain. On the bright side, she gets to spend some time with her crush, Abbie. But as her internship progresses, Jess will begin to realize that there are secrets yet to be uncovered.
Essentially, Not Your Sidekick was a fun piece of fluff. “Cute” is a very good description. I can get easily annoyed by books where the romance is a significant element, but for whatever reason this one worked for me. As such, I enjoyed it even when most of the plot were incredibly obvious (such as the identity of the mysterious “M”). I also found the prose mediocre and a bit workmanlike but was drawn into the story to the point where it didn’t overly bother me.
I knew it was a superhero story, but I didn’t know much else about Not Your Sidekick‘s genre or setting before going in. Turns out, it takes place over a hundred years in the future after a series of natural and nuclear disasters have resulted in the genes for superpowers being expressed. The United States is gone, replaced with a North American collective that registers everyone with superpowers and places the most powerful onto an elite crime fighting team.
While there are obviously some technological and political differences, I don’t think the social and cultural differences of a book set a hundred years in the future after a WWWIII were fully developed. For instance, high school is virtually unchanged from the way it is today, complete even with AP classes and student government (does the Collective even have an elective government?). While I thought the world building premise had potential, I would have liked to see it more fully developed.
This very cute story is the first in a trilogy, the next book of which sounds like it will focus on Jess’s trans friend Bells. I’m planning on reading it, and would recommend this series to anyone looking for a fun superhero story with a focus on queer characters and characters of color.