books · reviews

Not Your Sidekick // A character-driven YA sci-fi novel

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.

Characters

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.

Writing

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!

What is your favourite sci-fi novel? Also, let me know if you’ve read this book and/or the others in the series!

27 thoughts on “Not Your Sidekick // A character-driven YA sci-fi novel

    1. Hey Margaret! Haha yeah, however much I like our kick-ass genius YA protagonists, sometimes it is refreshing to get a MC who is just a normal kid 🙂 Hope that you will enjoy this book when you get to it!

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  1. Wonderful review, Sophie! I’m kind of happy that this focuses on characters so much and even sometimes reads itself like a contemporary. You know me, I’m a contemporary reader and adore these kind of books and… despite hearing so many great things about this book, superheroes aren’t always my thing, but here, I feel like they might be, given that it’s so character focused. If that makes any sense, haha. Wonderful review! 🙂

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    1. Hey Marie! I am the same way when it comes to superhero books and movies haha. Typically superhero stories don’t interest me. I kind of expected this book to be a fun, action-based superhero story, however it surprised me in a good way! Although there are action and sci-fi elements, there is lots of focus on characters and relationships too 🙂

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  2. This books sounds really good. I love reading about superheroes (I have been searching for more books with them) but I love it more when it’s not necessarily about saving the world but their life. So I like the idea that the parents don’t know what to do with the villains missing.
    I also love that it touches on the characters and has some self-empowerment because I always love that.
    I loved your review and I definitely want to pick it up!! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! I liked how this book had a strong focus on characters and relationships despite being a sci-fi. The parents were related and human in this book which I enjoyed 🙂
      Thank you!! I’m glad this review made you interested in this book. Hope that you’ll enjoy it 🙂

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  3. Sounds like an upbeat, older PowerPuff girls story. I like how it has an LGBT aspect. I don’t think I’ve read much sci-fi to be honest. The Divergent series was one but I didn’t like how it played out.

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    1. Yeah! It does have a bit of that Powerpuff vibe haha 🙂 I have Divergent on my shelf though I never actually read it (I guess I’m pretty late to the game hahaha…)

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  4. I bought Not Your Sidekick recently, so I’m really looking forward to reading it! And wow, this is a non-traditional approach, having an average student, with no superpowers and unexceptional even in her academics! Some authors believe that their protagonists have to be remarkable in some way. But some other authors believe you can have perfectly ordinary people star in a story as well. What’s your take on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Sieran!!! I LOVE ordinary characters as the MC of a story haha. In real life, everyone is the MC of their own story, and yes everyone has a story to tell! We probably think that most people that we meet are ordinary, but in fact I think everyone is extraordinary in some way. Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary is part of what I think writing is about. I also think that readers can relate much more to ordinary people who have flaws and make mistakes just like they do.
      That being said, I also love reading books about super intelligent and super skilled people hahaha. It can be quite entertaining 🙂

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      1. Yeah I read on a fortune cookie that every person is a fascinating book. You just have to know how to read them. So amen to “ordinary” people being extraordinary! In fact, one of the most frequent compliments I get, is that I’m a very unique person. But I don’t actually think I’m that remarkable. I may be more outspoken about my thoughts and beliefs, so that may give the impression that I’m more interesting than I am, haha. I happen to have many minority identities (not just being gay and transgender), but they’re just my identities, not my personality, lol.

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      2. LOL maybe it’s because it takes too much effort and energy to hide who I am. XD It’s much easier for me to disclose than to conceal. But I understand that for most people, it’s easier to stay quiet than to speak up? (I’m secretive about some things, though.)

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      3. When I was little, I was quiet. But when I grew older (late middle school or so), I became one of the most frequent contributors to class discussions, and I generally talk a lot in groups (I have a slow reaction time, though, so it can be hard for me to get a word in if the conversation moves too fast.)

        A lot of people tell me that I’m brave to disclose so much…But they don’t realize that I actually have to exert a lot of self-control to NOT disclose. xD

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sounds like you’ve grown more outgoing compared to when you were small. I’m curious why you think this is!
        I’ve always been quiet and I still kind of am hahaha although I am loud when I am with people that I am good friends with 🙂

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