Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad #1), by C. B. Lee
Publish Date: September 8, 2016 (audiobook published 2018)
Published by: Duet Books (audiobook published by Tantor Audio)
Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
Pages: 283 (approx. 8 hrs)
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
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
I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time, so finding an audiobook of it on Hoopla was a wonderful discovery. I loved the whole concept of a daughter of superheroes finding a job with a villain, paired with a f/f romance that covers the trope of secret identities. And while it was everything I expected it to be and a little more, I still felt frustrated at times and not completely enthralled with the story.
I have some mixed feelings about this book. Part of it unfortunately has to do with the narration of the audiobook, which I wish I could ignore in favor of the story itself, but it was just a little difficult to divide the two in the beginning. The narrator, unfortunately, has a tendency to be very soft spoken and almost monotonous during the passages that aren’t dialogue. At first I thought it was just the recording that was quiet but when she started reading dialogue and giving life and personality to each character (which I admit she did well), that was when I realized that it was all her. This put me off for a while because it made it difficult to listen to in my car (which I’ve been doing with previous audiobooks), and eventually just had to give up and only listen to it with headphones when I could.
As for the story itself, looking past the audiobook narrator, it did seem to start off a little slow. There was some pretty good and interesting world-building in the beginning, but not a lot of action of intrigue to really make me completely invested at first. Even after Jess started working at Monroe it felt like not much was happening – just her crushing on Abby and talking with M and being a little oblivious about obvious things. On the one hand I liked the growing romance between the two, but on the other it dominated so much of the story that the really big picture things were only scattered about, coming together not until the very end for one big explosion of revelations and action scenes.
Jess was an okay narrator, but for someone who is a daughter and sister of superheroes, she sure is slow on the uptake. You would think she might be a little quicker to make certain connections about certain characters, especially when one of them was using the most cliche superhero-story trope of them all. It was just so frustrating how long it took for her to finally discover things, and even then it wasn’t until she had it staring her right in the face. I know she noticed some strange things going on (and hello, a government that bans Star Warsis a major sign that something is wrong here), but she didn’t really act on them or think much past them, letting herself instead get distracted by everyday things. And I guess I could attribute that to her being a regular old teenager, which is fair, but for the sake of story-telling it just felt annoying and like it was dragging these mysteries out.
I did like the take on superheroes and supervillains, and how the government controls them. I thought it was unique and interesting and definitely made for a great plot. I just wish there had been a little bit more of a focus on it, or even just more of it being mentioned throughout the story.
This was a good story with an interesting plot, some good romance, and a nice diverse cast of characters. But sometimes the romance got in the way of the plot, the main character was kind of blind to obvious things, and the beginning was just a little too slow when compared with the ending. I think I want to continue with the next one, but I’m not completely sure.
Beat the Backlist 2018 | Books Completed Toward Goal: 32/20