Series: Sidekicked #1
Andrew Bean lives in a world where superheroes and supervillains clash on a daily basis and no one blinks an eye. Possessed of super senses–the ability to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste to an extraordinary degree–Andrew decides to join his school’s secret hero training program, which matches young sidekicks with a mentor superhero. But when his city is in danger and the superheroes out of action, can Andrew and his friends take down a real supervillian? Or will Andrew always be nothing more than a sidekick?
Sidekicked is a fun, campy superhero story that never takes itself too seriously, but instead crams in readers’ favorite superhero tropes with a knowing wink. The premise of combining superhero training with normal middle school anxieties will surely appeal to the book’s target audience, but it also makes a compelling story for an older audience.
Written as rather typical middle school boy (or what society often perceives as “typical”), Andrew runs the risk of becoming annoying. He has a sarcastic observation or comment for just about everything. He engages in tiresome behavior, such as hating another guy for being better-looking and catching the eye of the girl he likes. He thinks it makes him cool (even though he deprecates himself and his abilities a lot) to be snarky. He is, even when he is feeling bad about himself, a bit full of himself at the same time. He is, in short, complex and he has a lot of potential for growth. Though I normally cannot stand sarcastic protagonists, Andrew was actually funny at times, whereas other characters are simply mean. I accepted him as a portrayal of a middle school boy even when his actions made me cringe.
The plot of the book, while sometimes relying on old standbys to move the action, provides enough mystery and twists to keep readers engaged. Furthermore, the action continues almost nonstop, with Andrew and his friends constantly searching for clues or running from villains. Regardless of how readers feel about the characters, the story clearly never wants them to be bored.
Sidekicked is a light-hearted and fun read, one that, if it is not high art, at least proves entertaining. Lovers of superhero stories may want to check this one out.