Monday, July 15, 2013

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Published June 25th 2013 by Walden Pond Press

With not nearly enough power comes way too much responsibility. 

Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers. 

But this was all before a supervillain long thought dead returned to Justicia, superheroes began disappearing at an alarming rate, and Drew’s two identities threatened to crash head-on into each other. Drew has always found it pretty easy to separate right from wrong, good from evil. It’s what a superhero does. But what happens when that line starts to break down?
Rating: 4/5


Drew's superpower doesn't seem very super: he has heightened senses.  But it was enough to land him in H.E.R.O., a training program for sidekicks.  Unfortunately, the superhero he gets paired with isn't that great either.  The Titan, once the greatest superhero that Justicia had, is now washed up and out of shape.  Needless to say, Drew's feeling out of place, both in H.E.R.O., where he feels he's lagging behind his friends, and in his daily life, where he has to keep his secret identity to himself.

So first of all, you should know that Sidekicked is a middle grade novel.  This is the first time I've done a middle grade review on the blog.  Though I mostly read and review YA, you may see a few more middle grade reviews pop up here from time to time.

This book has a strong middle grade voice and a humorous tone.  It pokes fun at superhero tropes and isn't afraid to be silly.  At the same time, it has a compelling plot and interesting relationships between the characters.  I thought it captured the essence of the awkward middle school years well.  The adult characters were great, too.  While Sidekicked didn't shy away from the fact that grown-ups aren't perfect, it also didn't dismiss them as useless the way some middle grade and young adult books do.  John David Anderson found a good balance there.

One thing I would have liked to see more of was the relationship between Drew and his parents.  Drew's secret identity keeps them at a distance, and although he dresses up in costume to be a sidekick, it's at home that he feels like he's wearing a mask.  I wanted to see Drew's relationship with his parents develop further, but to me disappointment, it didn't.

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed that there's no sequel planned for this book.  I really liked it, and I wish there was more to read.

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