Sidekicked

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4.5 (2)
 
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Sidekicked
Age Range
8+
Release Date
June 25, 2013
ISBN
978-0062133144
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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?

Editor reviews

2 reviews

It's not easy being Super
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Andrew possesses super powers-- but only when it comes to sensing things. He's supersensitive to anything he can taste, smell, feel or hear, which is only marginally useful. Luckily, he has Mr. Masters, who has started a H.E.R.O. group at the middle school for students with powers, thinking that if it's so obvious, no one will figure it out. Mr. Masters trains the kids, and also sets them up with Supers as their mentors. Drew's is the Titan, who took down a particularly nasty criminal, The Dealer, several years ago, and has retired from public life. When people keep attacking Drew, he suspects that it's really the Titan that everyone is after. The Dealer has escaped from prison and is back with three of his four Jacks-- the Jack of Hearts being the one killed the Titan. When Mr. Masters is kidnapped by the Jack of Clubs, Drew knows that he needs to do something. Jenna, whose Super, the Fox, is the only one who seems to be able to take care of the Dealer, helps him, and there is a bit of a romance between the two. No time for that, though, when The Dealer takes most of the Supers out of commission, and the Sidekicks are really the only ones who can save the day. Not everyone with super powers is fighting on the side of good, however, and Drew finds a surprising enemy while trying to save the day.
Strengths: Super hero books have been very popular, and students who like comic books often beg for more, so this will definitely fill that niche. Drew is a character to whom they can relate-- he's part of the crowd, but less powerful than everyone else. Good romance and ensemble cast adds depth to the story, and auxiliary characters like Mr. Masters are finely drawn. Lots of good descriptions and some funny turns of phrase highlight the good writing, and the cover is just the right shade of "grown-up" cartoon to appeal to middle grade readers.
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Super Fun!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
What I Loved:
Sidekicked had me at superheroes. I can't get enough of them, at least so far, and the superhero books I've read thus far have yet to seriously let me down. Sidekicked is a great read, full of action and humor, like all the best superhero stories. Full of twists, turns, and middle school awkwardness, Sidekicked is a delightful addition to superhero fiction.

Like most superhero stories, Sidekicked takes place in a fictional city, the home to the most famous of all superheroes, Justicia. In Justicia, seeing superheroes saving the day is commonplace, much like in Kurt Busiek's Astro City. Cops and EMTs wait for superheroes to arrive on the scene of any crime involving a villain, because they're both outclassed and used to the aid of the heroes. These heroes are actually possessed of powers, not just rich kids with toys, though they are mostly wealthy since being a superhero is a costly venture - secret lairs aren't free, you know.

Andrew Bean's middle school has a secret program, one that allows him to skip gym: the Highview Environmental Revitalization Organization (They keep the trash off the streets!). Also known as H.E.R.O. Drew is one of only six kids in this special club, all of them special and all in training to one day be superheroes. Each one gets paired up as a sidekick to a hero, who can teach them the tricks of the trade, unless they refuse to meet with you like Drew's does.

Drew's alias is The Sensationalist, because he has super senses. All of his senses are greatly enhanced, except for touch, which is a blessing. Though these powers are fairly useful, he feels out of place with even the rest of the sidekicks, who have super strength or speed or can walk through objects. Drew wants either to be normal or to be truly exceptional, but feels trapped in the middle, not powerful enough to be a Super but to strange and nerdy to fit in with the rest of his classmates.

Drew falls into classic outsider territory. Told in first person narration, the commentary throughout the novel is hilarious. He just made me smile, like when he was working out what his catchphrase might be and said this: "'I'm the sensationalist, and I at least smell better than you!' Maybe I have a future as a deodorant pitchman.' The rest of the cast is well-developed too, and it's a nice ensemble of quirky characters. I love that Jenna is the most powerful of the sidekicks and that a female Super is the strongest hero currently in action. There's a real emphasis on the strength in everyone and looking past the surface.

What most impressed me with Sidekicked though was actually the plot. Anderson keeps everything fast-paced, full of attacks by villains, some of which were pretty intense. At a hundred pages in, I had this awesome theory about the twists that were coming...and I was wrong. A lot of novels targeted to younger readers really telegraph the twists, but Anderson didn't do that. Everything came together really nicely, and he surprised me with each one, even though I was watching for them. Now, I'm not saying I'm the best at anticipating twists, but I suspect the intended audience will be shocked when they reach the big reveal. I really appreciate when middle grade fiction isn't dumbed down.

The Final Verdict:
Anyone who enjoys superhero stories will most definitely want to read Sidekicked. Though a middle grade novel, John David Anderson's Sidekicked is a story that will please children, teens and adults alike with its clever humor, vibrant cast, and action-packed plot.
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