Sidekick Squad, Book One
Size: 5.25 x 8.00 in
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.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Interlude Press
Heat Level: 1
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender
Protagonist 1 Age: Under 18
Protagonist 2 Age: Under 18
Protagonist 3 Age: Under 18
Tropes: Badass Hero
Word Count: 80000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
“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.READ MORE
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.COLLAPSE
Scott on Queer Sci Fi wrote:
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.
Charlie on MuggleNet 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?
Camera on The Writer's Will 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.
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.
Also featured in:
- Redefining Super, Diversity in YA, September 17, 2016
- The Best Superheroes Right Now Aren’t On Screens. They’re In Books, Wired Magazine, September 19, 2016
- Kick Off Bisexual Awareness Week With 12 2016 YA Books, Barnes and Noble, September 19, 2016
- Celebrating Bisexuality in Reading, Kirkus Reviews, September 30, 2016
- A Little Bit More Action, Please: The Asian American Superheroine Novel, Brooklyn Magazine, October 28, 2016
- 12 YA Books with Characters of Color and Diverse Characters, Teen Vogue
- The Post Coming-Out Story in YA LBGTQ Fiction, The Gay YA, November 11, 2016