From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7–With his less-than-spectacular superpowers and a partner who never shows up, Andrew finds that his life as a crime-fighting sidekick called “the Sensationalist” is fairly tame. When a mysterious villain captures most of the city's top “Supers,” though, the 13-year-old has to find a way to thwart the evil plot and save the day. Andrew's self-deprecating, occasionally sarcastic narration lightly mocks superhero conventions with some fun and insight. Insecurity about his role neatly mixes in with typical middle school headaches, including teasing, romance, and school lunches. While Andrew's self-analysis drags on a bit at times, there are plenty of funny observations about the challenges superheroes face, including financial worries and outgrowing their spandex. The boy's relationships with other sidekicks, his teacher, and the retired Super who rejects him work fairly well to set up some tough personal and moral decisions. They also impact the gradually developing heroes-versus-villains plot, which includes a couple of slightly predictable twists and ends with a battle in which the sidekicks prove their worth. The action scenes are not especially involving, but the clever humor, coupled with some thoughtful exploration into the nature of friendship, courage, and heroism, makes this a solid addition to the field of superhero novels.–Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, ORα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The community of Justicia may seem like Anywhere, USA, but it’s home to an abundance of superheroes—or “Supers” as they are known locally—and Highview Middle School has a secret training class for superhero sidekicks. Andrew “Drew” Bean, one of the six sidekicks-in-training, is not only saddled with the usual middle-school angst but a problematic Super as well. With most of the Supers absent, a crime wave commences and a supervillain threatens. This draws heavily on the beloved superhero genre, and features plenty of hair-raising action and characters knocked about and annihilated. But it is the sarcastic middle-school humor that sets the tone. Drew’s take on his teenage problems are well balanced with the unique situations arising from being part of an elite (and somewhat nerdy) team. Big action sequences notwithstanding, this is more about small moments and dealing with less-than-perfect people and circumstances. Those who like their fantasy grounded firmly in the real world will enjoy this one. Grades 4-7. --Randall Enos