Friday, August 9, 2013

REVIEW: Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Sidekicked Sidekicked by John David Anderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Superhero fictions tend to fall into two camps: campy and meta. This Middle Grade fiction fell into camp meta, and it fell flat on its bottom with a splat. Ouch.

+ the main character

I struggled to like the main character because Drew was quite nettlesome. I was aware that because he was only 13 years old I should cut him some slack, and I did. I cut him lots of slack, despite the jabbing fact that the people in charge thought he was mature enough to handle and keep chemical weapons and to go out on the street and fight bad guys. What was I saying, again? Oh yes, I cut Drew lots of slack. Still and all, by the middle of the book, I had to wave the white flag. He had shown not an inch of character growth. Not a fucking inch.

Drew was one of those brats who lives a good life but thinks they don’t. What we had in first person narration was complaints about how unhelpful his superpower was, how his superhero partner sucked, how much he disliked Gavin, and how much he liked Jenna and wished she would reciprocate and stop spending time with Gavin. Rinse and repeat. I understood his complaints for the most part were meant to be humorous in a sardonic manner but none of it amused me.

I felt bad for Gavin for how Drew treated him, and I was already feeling bad for Gavin for being typecast as a slow witted jock. Drew’s fellow sidekick did nothing to him to earn his enmity except for being everything Drew wanted to be: tall, handsome, muscular, popular, and having a superpower that is “combat compliant.” Drew’s jealousy was a pain in the neck. I hated how none of the characters called Drew out for the crap.

What was worse was that accompanying his jealousy with Gavin was his possessiveness with Jenna. She was his best friend yet Drew treated her more as a go-to emotional comfort blanket than as a friend. She was there for him many times but the few times when she needed him he doesn’t deliver. To my horror, Drew worked that “Nice Guy” attitude where if a guy is a nice to a girl for a certain period of time she must reward his niceness by being his girlfriend. No. Just no. 13 years old and already his feet were on the road to dick-hood.

In addition to Drew sucking as a decent person, he also sucked as a sidekick. His super senses could be extremely useful in crime-fighting, investigation and espionage for example, if only he would realize it and quit shallowly seeing superhero-ing as all about the epic battles. He never really did much to my exasperation. I struggled to understand why Drew continued to stay in H.E.R.O. when many times it seemed like his heart wasn’t in it. Now, to be fair, I also blamed the program and Mr. Masters, the person in charge, for not doing right by him. Ugh, so much incompetence.

Anyway, I had difficulty believing how Drew managed to survive with so few injuries when things could have easily taken a turn for the tragic. He had incredible luck let me tell you. Now, Drew did make smart decisions, but they were very few and far between, and that’s why I took issue. The kid was very smart, but just like his superpower, he never made full use of his brain as often as he should have. He had so much potential but displayed very little of it.

+ the plot

For most of the book, Drew was a passive participant, which made for a dull read. Not that Drew didn’t do anything, it was just that he could have done more, and he could have done it with a lot less whining. The plot didn’t hit the ground running till halfway through, and even then it wasn’t running fast. Action scenes were scant and fleeting. I could forgive all these things if the book brought any worthwhile commentary about the superhero theme. It brought shit.

Well, things weren’t all bad. The best part of the book were the twists towards the end. They completely surprised me. Unfortunately, they also put in a crimp in the portrayal of strong female characters, and the book was already dripping in machoism. It was depressing that even the good things came with some problems of their own.

Rubbing salt into the wound was the lackluster ending. I think I saw half of an inch of character growth from Drew at the end. Talk about pitiful. The other characters were equally disappointing as well, especially Titan. When the story revealed what happened in the past that put him into depression, it turned out to be something stupid and cliche. Oh, boo hoo cry me a fucking river. I wanted to bitchslap the dude... and maybe also tie him to a rocket and launch it to the sun. Man, what a group of shitty characters.

In Conclusion

I rate Sidekicked 2-stars for it was okay. The book was engaging but it failed to meaningfully explore the superhero theme and, more importantly, it failed to entertain me. If you plan on picking it up, I recommend borrowing over buying. Or better yet, try The Cloak Society, a better Middle Grade superhero fiction.

Goodreads | Amazon


  1. nice review, expy. and nice site! first time i've been here, and i like it lots.

  2. Thanks! I redesigned the blog a week ago. Finally found a great background to do so.


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