|Digital List Price:||$5.99|
|Print List Price:||$6.99|
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Sidekicked Kindle Edition
|Length: 389 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 8 - 12|
|Grade Level: 3 - 7|
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H.E.R.O.'s six sidekicks-in-training all claim super-powers ranging from the ability to secrete a substance that transforms skin to granite, generate electricity, or phase thru solid objects. Drew's power is somewhat less than super. He has super-acute senses. He can see, smell, hear better than anyone. He probably doesn't deserve his (I think) awesome code name, the Sensationalist. In the school basement, when the others are training in the combat room, Drew practices in another room, trying to identify mysterious scents out of test tubes. You can't blame him for feeling jealousy and a smidge of an inferiority complex.
What with Justicia's superhero group, the Legion of Justice, long since disbanded, it's left to individual costumed vigilantes to patrol the city and confound crime. Each of the six sidekicks has been appointed a superhero to act as mentor. Drew's super-strong, super-fast, super-everything best friend, Jenna, for example, is partnered with the Fox, the city's preeminent crimefighter. To Drew's shame, he's partnered with Titan, once Justicia's celebrated champion but today is an apathetic, out-of-shape boozer. There's nothing more embarassing than for a sidekick to get caught by a supervillain and suspended over a pool of acid and his mentor couldn't be bothered to show up. Yeah, it's happened to Drew.
Still, absentee hero aside, crap super-power aside, pangs of self-esteem aside, envy that his best friend, Jenna, seems to like that jock sidekick better aside, when an old foe, previously believed to be dead, resurfaces and Justicia's superheroes begin to vanish, can the Sensationalist get his act together to help save the day?
John David Anderson's SIDEKICKED is a middle grade read that recalls that little gem of a movie SKY HIGH. Or we can probably do better with comparisons, seeing as how prolific superhero prose has gotten. The superhero school theme gets a lot of play nowadays, what with Super Powereds: Year 1,The Cloak Society,Joshua Dread: The Nameless Hero, and even Edgewood (Edgewood Series) swamping the e-book market. But don't let the cheery cartoony book cover fool ya. Yeah, SIDEKICKED has its lighthearted moments and its homages and its share of snark (thanks to first-person narrator, Drew himself). But don't underestimate the writer's knack for mining the darker recesses of the superhero mythos. There's a bittersweet flourish to the narrative, and maybe I'm talking about Drew's mentor and how down in the dumps he is, or maybe I'm referencing something else altogether. So, even though it's a middle grade read, there's enough depth here to provoke discussion and draw in an older audience.
John David Anderson brings in some fresh material. One example - and I got a kick out of this - is the superhero timeshare concept, "like Helios and Nocturne, who conveniently split day and evening shifts on account of one is solar powered and the other is half vampire." I wish I could've seen Kid Caliber in action. Not only is "Kid Caliber" a cool code name but I love sharpshooters who rarely miss. And I liked that I didn't see that villain coming, although there were clues peppered here and there. I wish that we'd seen the Sensationalist more in action. The only other knocks I have for this book is that 1) it may be too long a read for middle graders and 2) there are too many lulls in the narrative. Having said that, the sequel can't come fast enough.
As far as the story, it's kind of like a highschool xmen/super hero book. I liked the idea that the main character was a little weak and useless compared to others but I don't think he brings you into the story as good as he could have. For some reason I felt annoyed at him sometimes...
The story itself was interesting and worth reading. I think it would make an interesting movie for young kids and would be more enjoyable for a much younger audience.
Also, I agree with the other reviewer, this book would make a fun cartoon. Are you listening Pixar?
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