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, who 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.
Jess was an average high school student. While her older sister was a superhero and her younger brother was a child genius, Jess wasn’t really much of anything. Being the child of two superheroes (Smash and Shockwave), Jess tried to bring out her own superhuman abilities…. but she didn’t seem to have any. Disappointed at herself and feeling the need to round out her college application, Jess applied for an assistant at the Monrobot corporation. Here she met the mysterious M, who only ever showed up in a mecha suit, and the beautiful and popular Abby, who Jess was too shy to speak to.
I kind of loved that Jess was this… average girl. She wasn’t a top student and she didn’t even have superpowers. She was just trying to get by in high school like everyone else.
I also loved Jess’s crew of friends, including the boy-crazy Emma and Bells of the ever-changing hairstyles. Though they were fiercely supportive of Jess, they were not without their problems. Jess’s parents were interesting personalities as well. Because the villains (Mister and Mistress Mischief) of the town were missing in action, Jess’s mom and dad dealt with their lack of superhero work in different ways. I loved that although Jess was the centre of this novel, her friends and family were going through their own problems too.
Despite this being a sci-fi novel, there was a lot of focus placed on characters and relationships, which was refreshing to see in this genre.
Plot & Pacing
Not Your Sidekick wasn’t your typical superhero story. As Jess began work as an intern, she uncovered some of the secrets of the company she worked for, as well as the secrets of the League of Superheroes. She also learned more about the people around her- Abby, M, and her best friends Emma and Bells. I loved that, as much as Not Your Sidekick was an action/thriller/sci-fi novel about right and wrong, it was also about friendship and family.
The pacing was slower than what I expected. At times, it read more like a YA contemporary novel rather than a sci-fi novel, however I didn’t mind this because I enjoyed reading about the characters and their relationships.
I enjoyed the prose. Descriptions, dialogues and action scenes flowed smoothly.
The worldbuilding was excellent. The futuristic setting was believable (ie. Robots, holograms, DEDs). The superhero league had a history, hierarchy culture of their own which I enjoyed reading about.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 stars!
As much as Not Your Sidekick was about superheroes and super villains, it was also a coming of age story about relationships, self-acceptance and self-empowerment. Whether you enjoy YA sci-fi or contemporary, this might be a worthwhile next read!