Review: Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

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, whom 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.

Rating: 4*

Recommended For: 12+

Themes: Identity and acceptance, heroes and villains, friendship, family

LGBTQIA+ Content: Bisexual MC. Lesbian supporting character. Trans supporting character. Author is bisexual.

Jessica’s seventeenth birthday is coming up and she’s desperate to manifest powers like her parents. The non-powered daughter of two superheroes, Jess is desperate to find a way to prove her worth in a world where normal seems worthless.

With a love for superheroes, especially Captain Orion, leader of the Heroes League of Heroes, Jess wants to be heroic. When she’s not trying to manifest powers, at home she spends her time with her friends, hanging out and watching contraband old tech TV shows. At school she crushes over Abby Jones, volleyball team captain and everything Jess desires in a girl.

As she tries her best to find ways to improve her college application, Jess gets a job as an intern at Monroe Industries, and everything changes from there.

I really love some parts of this book. Others I’m not so keen on. I love the way representation is done. LGBTQIA+ characters and POC characters are introduced without LGBTQIA+ or POC issues being everything about them. The worldbuilding is well done. The future world C.B. Lee creates is believable and interesting, with minimal infodumping.

On the other hand, sometimes I feel the writing style leaves something to be desired. The ideas are excellent but the prose can be too straightforward and lacking in descriptive detail. I appreciate text that isn’t purple and flowery but at the same time, I do like some description.

Overall, this was a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next in the series. Definitely recommended for younger members of the LGBTQIA+ community and anyone who like a a good superhero romp.

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