by Auralee Wallace
Published by Harlequin Enterpises AU
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance
Heroes meets Bridget Jones in this brilliant, hilarious debut novel about a girl who just wants to save the world... Bremy St James, daughter of billionaire Atticus St James, has been cut off from the family fortune and is struggling to survive in a world that no longer holds its breath every time she buys a new outfit. To make matters worse, her twin sister is keeping secrets, loan sharks are circling, and the man of her dreams — a newspaper reporter — is on assignment to bring down everyone with the last name St James. Things are certainly looking bleak for the down-and-out socialite until a good deed throws her into the path of the city’s top crime-fighter, Dark Ryder. Suddenly, Bremy has a new goal: apprentice to a superhero, and start her own crime-fighting career. Ryder has no need for a sidekick, but it turns out the city needs Bremy’s help. Atticus St James is planning the crime of the century, and Bremy may be the only one able to get close enough to her father to stop him. Now all she needs to do is figure out this superhero thing in less than a month, keep her identity secret from the man who could very well be The One, and save the city from total annihilation. Well, no one ever said being a superhero would be easy...
I was greatly looking forward to Sidekick as a piece of fluffy action-filled hijinks, but ended up finding it rather thin, disjointed and difficult to engage with. Sense of place is very important to me in a book, and this felt oddly nowhere, with little atmosphere – it could have happened almost anywhere in the world.
The heroine was utterly incompetent in a way that went past “amusingly inept”. Threads begun were not followed up. There were skeevy race issues – the Big Bad was exotic, Turkish, and called “The Sultana”; evil secondary characters Mr Raj and Mr Pushkin had me side-eying the book also. Even Ryder, the superhero, is oddly drawn: the author makes a point that she has dark skin, but with red hair and ice-blue eyes that make her look “like an alien”.
I also kept crashing on the ableist language – there are words other than “crazy”, “demented”, and “lunatic” for criminality, you know! (In fact, people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.) When part of the book is a critique of the pathologisation of criminality, why is the author so strongly endorsing that pathologisation in the text?
““The lie is that you’re safe! You tuck your little boys and girls into bed at night and tell them that there are no monsters! Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, that just isn’t true! Here I am!”
I wrapped my arm around a rung to catch my breath and give my aching feet a break. I passed the time indulging in violent fantasies. It was probably wrong to think about beating up the mentally ill, but I was starting to feel a little crazy myself, perched barefoot on the side of a ship, so that put us on equal ground.” […]
“Apparently, I had walked into Bizarro world. While this girl was obviously a little unstable, in the real world she could be bat shit crazy and still be out of this guy’s league.”
One extra star for actual scary clowns.
This book is not for me. However, maybe it’s for you? To get the other side of the story, here are some reviewers who liked it:
I received an e-galley of Sidekick from Netgalley in return for an honest review.