This book is wonderful, and I devoured it in two sittings. Not only does Not Your Sidekick tell an action packed story that keeps you in its grip, it is also a wonderful tale of belonging, being yourself, and found family. One of the aspects I loved most however, was the book's incredible diversity and how it really fit with the theme of belonging.
Firstly, our hero Jess is Asian, and this adds to the divide she feels within herself. Not only is she the daughter of two heroes without any powers of her own, but she also has this heritage that she knows little of and feels very much an outsider to. Lee expertly weaves this character arc, her growth and understanding of herself, and her eventual belonging, into the story arc with seeming ease. She grows as the story grows, and we cheer her on page by page. Furthermore, she is also Biromantic, and though she is confident in this fact from the offset, her romantic journey is just as important as her personal and moral journeys, again weaved in effortlessly. She learns not only to believe in herself but to be herself, and it's a very relatable journey for any reader.
Jess' best friend Bells is also POC but what plays more into his personal journey is that he is transgender. Bells was probably my favourite character, not just because I related to him personally but because he is a fashion icon, changing his hair styles as easy as the wind changes direction, and because he is just generally very kind, caring and sweet. He's the perfect friend for Jess to have and I can't wait to read the sequel, Not Your Villian, because it is this book that focuses on Bells more specifically. Bells is very confident in himself, but he still goes through a personal journey as much as Jess does, one which I hope is continued within the sequel and explored in more detail.
But what I really loved, alongside the characters themselves, was how Lee doesn't feel the need to explain their identities with chunks of exposition. They are there, and they are who they are, just the same as in our real world. The subtle exploration of these characters was beautiful, a real treat, and I will definitely be checking out more of her work.
Have you read Not Your Sidekick? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!
Thanks for reading!