Series Title: Sidekick Squad, Book Two
Pub Date: October 5, 2017
Pages: 320 (79,500 words)
Publisher: Duet, the Young Adult imprint of Interlude Press
Cover Design: CB Messer
Reviewed by Erin
Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants and, if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most wanted villain.
After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges.
Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.
If you're a fan of CB Lee's Sidekick Squad series, and really why wouldn't you be, then like me, you've been anxiously awaiting Bells Broussard's story! I LOVED him in Not Your Sidekick so I couldn't wait for Not Your Villain to get here and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint in the least. Every bit as fun and wild as the first book, Not Your Villain is full of all the fabulous action, friendships, and world building you'd expect ... and more. I'm not sure you can read Not Your Villain without reading Sidekick first, I mean you probably CAN, I just wouldn't recommend it since the beginning of Villain overlaps some of the events in Sidekick, but told from Bells' point of view and gah, that was just spectacular.
Superheroes ... I mean what's not to like about them? Bells is the newest member of the League of Heroes. He's a shape-shifting meta-human and I can promise you've not come across a character quite as fascinating as he is. Trans, black, and so adorable, he stole my heart right from the get go. I love what Lee did with his character, how his gender identity exploration coincides with his discovery of his super powers and what they mean to him. It was so wonderful to see sexual and gender identity discussed so casually, so nonchalantly like it's just a part of life and not anything out of the ordinary. The use of pronouns was just so genuine and seamless. Definite kudos to Lee for handling all of that so deftly.
It was such fun to explore more of the world that Lee introduced in Not Your Sidekick and to see more of the other characters. We get to catch up with Jess and Abby plus spend more time with others like Brendan (yay!) The friendship that morphs into a romance between Bells and Emma was seriously swoony and made me smile so big. Seriously guys, it's all such good stuff. I don't want to spoil anything for you because it's ridiculously brilliant. There's bad guys as you'd expect in a book about superheroes, and we get a clearer picture of what our League is up against. Wonderfully imaginative world-building, a diverse cast of characters that will all charm you, and a plot that keeps you engaged from beginning to end will keep you on the edge of your seat and more often than not, with a smile on your face. Not Your Villain is all kinds of awesome and I can't recommend it enough! Get this one on your TBR immediately. Though, once you read it, you'll be like the rest of us and anxiously awaiting the next book, so be ready!
Emma is quiet the next day and she pokes listlessly at her breakfast and doesn’t even talk when Brendan brings up ideas. “I’m gonna take a walk; I’ll see you guys later.”
Jess and Brendan are caught up in discussion, and Abby is still holed up in her quarters, so Bells excuses himself and goes to look for Emma.
Early in their exploration of the headquarters they found a spot that offers a view of the outside world. A narrow ladder goes up an access chute and out onto a cliffside observation deck. The original residents of the bunker must have only used it as a lookout. Bells hasn’t gone up there, just heard from the others how cool it was.
Bells takes a deep breath, climbs the ladder a step at a time, and finds Emma at the top, sitting and watching the sky.
She turns and raises a questioning eyebrow. “What are you doing up here?”
“Thought you would want some company.”
“Not really, but I’ll make an exception for you.” Emma scoots back from the edge and sits next to the wall.
Bells sits next to her, far from the deck’s edge. The snow is glistening in the morning sun, the wind sweeps through the trees, and the clouds slowly puff across the sky.
Emma hugs her knees, and Bells leans against her. Sighing, she puts her head on his shoulder. He doesn’t know how long they sit there, watching the sun race across the sky, but he doesn’t question it, just lets Emma take her time.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” Emma says. “I mean, when I think about it, there was nothing wrong with Carlos, you know?”
Bells shrugs. “But you didn’t like him like that. It’s a good enough reason to break up, I think.”
“Look, I thought I— I never really got the relationship stuff. I know that you’re supposed to, that’s what normal people do, but I’ve never felt...” Emma trails off, lost in thought. “I mean, I’ve researched it a lot, but I never thought it fit exactly, but sometimes I think I really could be... but what if I’m not?”
Bells throws his arm around her shoulders, waiting.
“I could be asexual,” Emma says slowly. “I’ve thought about it. And then I think, well that doesn’t... I mean, I find people attractive, you know. Like, a lot.”
Bells turns to look at her. “Doesn’t mean you’re not somewhere on the spectrum, you know. Look, it’s a pretty broad term. You could be ace or aro or both or somewhere in between—”
“I’ve thought of that too, being aromantic, and that makes a lot of sense?” Emma pauses, looking back at Bells through her lashes, and then her cheeks flush. “Not all the time, though. I mean... I still don’t know.”
“And that’s okay too,” Bells says. “Okay,” Emma says. The clouds tumble across the sky, and for a long moment the world outside doesn’t matter. Emma interlaces their fingers, and they sit, watching the forest sway.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer based in California. She is a first-generation Asian American and holds a BA in sociology and environmental science, which occasionally comes in handy in her chosen career, but not usually. Lee enjoys reading, hiking, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits.
Not Your Sidekick (2016) was named a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards. Lee’s first novel, Seven Tears at High Tide (2015), was also a Bisexual Book Awards finalist. She is a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow.
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Not Your Villain // Five winners receive the multi-format eBooka Rafflecopter giveaway