Evie Tanaka is used to being in the background. Her best friend and her boss is Aveda Jupiter, superhero saviour of San Fransisco. And Evie doesn’t mind being the assistant, really. Even with the tantrums, the insecurity, the round-the-clock attention that Aveda deserves. Even with the cupcake monsters, the demon portals, and her rebellious younger sister. Even with the incendiary secret that Evie carries… But her loyalty will be tested when Aveda the indestructible is injured, and orders Evie to fake her place in the spotlight.
Wow. Welcome to the new and exciting sub-genre, diverse superhero YA novels. Releases are coming thick and fast at the moment, with recent release Dreadnought (read my review here) and the ongoing series by C. B. Lee which began with Not Your Sidekick. Mainstream media has been packed with superhero films and adaptations in recent years, and it’s great to see diverse authors reclaiming these narratives for their own.
At first, Evie’s story is simply one of a long suffering assistant dealing with her boss, with superhero levels of patience. But as Evie is put under more and more pressure, the cracks in her own carefully constructed persona begin to show. Evie has tried for so long to be the person that everyone expects her to be, but at the cost of her own life. As she loosens her hold on her emotions, a hold triggered by an incendiary incident which cost her her PhD, she remembers what it feels like to, well, feel. I loved watching her grow into herself and her power, and allow herself to really connect to the people she cares about.
Aveda Jupiter, better known to her school friends as Annie Chang, and the second Asian-American protagonist of this novel, has to go on another journey entirely. When the demon portal opened in San Francisco eight years ago and gave many of the city’s inhabitants minor superhero powers as a side-effect, Aveda rose as the city’s number one superhero and demon fighter, despite her fairly pathetic telekinesis. But she’s going to have to learn that she can’t always be the number one.
The team that surrounds and supports this duo all lead complex lives in their own right. Scott, Nathaniel, Lucy, Rose and Bea are by no means a simple Greek chorus. This group snipe and argue, but in the end they all support each other against Team Aveda’s twin nemeses: demons, and celebrity bloggers. Heroine Complex is a big-hearted novel with space for everyone within its pages. Whether you’re nerdy, kickass, shy, gossipy or karaoke’s biggest fan, there’s a place for you on Aveda Jupiter’s Superhero Support Team – and she might be finally ready to admit it.
Two Asian American main characters, one primary and one prima donna. One lesbian on the superhero team, and another woman who’s attracted to ladies (but I’m not telling you who it is!).