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Not Your Sidekick

Sidekick Squad, Book One

by C.B. Lee

Book Cover: Not Your Sidekick
Part of the Not Your Sidekick series:
Part of the Sidekick Squad series:
Editions:Paperback - First Edition: $ 16.99 USD
ISBN: 978-1-945053-03-0
Size: 5.25 x 8.00 in
Pages: 296
Kindle - First Edition: $ 6.99 USD
ISBN: 978-1-945053-04-7
Pages: 296

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.

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“Pretty sure the comic artists were all inspired by actual events.” Abby shows Jess how all the comics start with the “origin:” Lieutenant Orion finding Gravitus at the scene, Gravitus creating a natural firebreak with his earth powers, and Orion flying firefighters to safety. “There aren’t holos of these things anymore, though, not of Gravitus being heroic. I mean, there is a record of this particular fire and Lieutenant. Orion being there, but—”

“They wrote Gravitus out of it,” Jess says.


Abby leans close. Their shoulders touch. Abby’s close enough for Jess to smell her shampoo—apple and cinnamon.


Abby looks up and their eyes meet; Jess is too afraid to look away, too nervous to move closer. She hangs in the moment, wondering, wondering. It’s the worst part about being attracted to girls—she doesn’t know how to flirt. Will Abby think she’s just being friendly? Should she just say it? But then if she says something, their whole friendship will change, and they only just started being close. And Jess likes that a lot. The chances that Abby is straight are high, and asking might ruin everything.

Abby’s eyelashes and eyebrows are a darker red than her hair, and there’s a faint scar running down her left cheek. Jess takes in all the details of her face so she can look back on this moment and remember—one time Abby Jones was on my bed and was this close, close enough to kiss

There's a knock on the open door. "You girls ready for dinner?"

Jess scoots back away from Abby. As much as she likes to dream about kissing Abby, the reality is she's not ready to find out whether Abby wants to kiss her back. Better not to risk certain rejection and stay in this realm of infinite possibility.

Reviews:on Publishers Weekly:

With a diverse cast of characters, both in terms of sexuality and ethnic background, and a wholly adorable romance for Jess, it’s a lively exploration of morality in a superpowered age.

Scott on Queer Sci Fi wrote:

A large part of the story deals with her expectations about what it means to be ordinary and what it means to be extra-ordinary. This is a theme that will speak strongly to the current generation. What happens when you try as hard as you possibly can but you still can’t achieve what you intend to do? How do you rebuild who you are when you fail short of your parent’s expectations?

Charlie on MuggleNet wrote:

The highly anticipated Not Your Sidekick demonstrates C.B. Lee’s brilliant ability to create uplifting, enjoyable and entertaining YA that explores racial identity, heritage, family, sexuality, romance and friendship in a refreshingly light and honest read. If you’re looking for a read that is all about the plot and fun and “just happens to be” inclusive, without being reductive, Not Your Sidekick ticks all the boxes. What we get is a deftly and cleverly layered story which has delicate touches of world building and plot exposition.

Camera on The Writer's Will wrote:

Not Your Sidekick stays aware of every stereotypical trope of superheroes, and finds a way to either point at its absurdity or turn it on its head. Along with calling out the absurdity of how the hero somehow never can figure out the identity of the shadowy figure (case in point, Jess doesn’t figure out who ‘M’ is until damn near two-thirds of the way through), Lee builds up scenes where Jess, a girl with no powers of her own, becomes the hero and saves the day. We even get a taste of the notorious villain monologue, and everyone is aware of how ridiculous it is. This playful jest at heavy-handed plot devices makes for a comical atmosphere, but this novel stays out of the zone of satire, not only maintaining the real dangers of superheroes blending with non-powered society, but touching on the real world issues of today, including nationalism, racism, sexuality, and if the “common good” really is good…Lee has created something that is not only dynamic for the entire genre, but integral for the movements of both creating space for more Asian leading characters and queer characters.

About the Author

CB Lee is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American writer whose novels include the Sidekick Squad series, a young adult science fiction adventure that follow queer teens who take on a corrupt government superhero agency, and also the fantasy Seven Tears At High Tide. 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 Tidewas 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.

Lee lives in Los Angeles and when not writing, enjoys hiking, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits. You can connect with her on Twitter @author_cblee and on Instagram at @cblee_cblee.

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