by John David Anderson
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?
I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review
John David Anderson's Sidekicked is a super fun, super action-packed middle-grade read bursting with superpowers, superheroes, and super sidekicks! Basically, it's pretty super...
Middle-schooler Drew, his best friend Jenna, and a handful of their classmates are part of the secret H.E.R.O. Program at school. A program that trains kids with superpowers to be sidekicks to the world's superheroes. Drew must hide his sidekick identity from the world, while hiding his double life from his parents. Dubbed “The Sensationalist”, Drew has super senses, but this superpower doesn't really wow people like that of his peers who have super strength, can walk through walls, control electricity, and so much more. Then there's Drew's assigned Super, the once infamous and powerful Titan, who now spends more time at the bar then doing anything super at all. But when a villain thought dead reappears with his nasty minions, it's up to the kids in H.E.R.O to save the day.
Sidekicked is a wildly entertaining mix of “Sky High”, “The Avengers”, “X-Men” and weekends spent “flying” around the backyard with a towel tied around your neck as a cape. Anderson has concocted a refreshing superhero story full of thrills, twists, laugh-out-loud humor, and awesome characters. With a pitch-perfect middle-grade voice that is over-the-top in the best way possible, Sidekicked is bound to keep younger readers enthralled and amused from beginning to end.
When it comes to superheroes and villains, we often think that everything that could be done has been done, and while Sidekicked may not feature any earth-shatteringly new superpowers, Anderson has done a great job of creating a fresh new twist on the superhero premise. The H.E.R.O program at Drew's school, located in the city of Justicia, makes for a fun and exciting setting. The whole superhero world in Sidekicked is wonderfully developed; from its history to its hierarchy, this world is deftly laid out and easily comes alive. And the actual superpowers, from super senses to super strength to mind-reading to a boy who can turn his skin stone hard, are so cool and fun! And of course, the superheroes and sidekicks all have crazy spandexy costumes and unforgettable names.
Anderson infuses a lot of action, cheeky humor, and even romance in Sidekicked. I love how this book never takes itself too seriously and even pokes fun at superhero tropes and cliches. It isn't all superheroes and fighting bad guys all the time though, the tricky and often dangerous world of middle-school, bullies, and crushes is also explored with a lot of heart and humor.
Drew is a wonderfully funny, awkward, and endearing main character and narrator. He and his H.E.R.O peers make an eclectic, quirky, and fun group. I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Drew and his bff/secret crush, Jenna. The various adult superheroes are a great mix of admirable, captivating, and amusing, while the various bad guys are over-the-top villainous in the way you want your nefarious baddies to be.
The story takes some wicked twists that lead to an explosive and climactic showdown that will have readers eagerly turning pages.
John David Anderson
John David Anderson once hit himself so hard on a dare by his sister that he literally knocked himself out of a chair and nearly blacked out. He has since translated this passion and singularity of purpose to the related arts of novel writing and pizza eating. The author of STANDARD HERO BEHAVIOR and the forthcoming SIDEKICKED, Anderson is a firm believer in wearing the same pair of jeans for three days in a row (four in the winter). He lives with his beautiful wife and twins in Indianapolis.