Happy Monday, guys!
Today, we're reviewing the ridiculously fun School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough. I'm normally kind of dubious of superhero books, but man. This one had me wishing for a movie adaptation and a sequel, STAT!
MMGM is a feature hosted by (fabulous) author Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Format read: ARC via publisher
When Evan Quick gets the chance to join their ranks, he quickly learns that being a superhero is far more complicated, intriguing and fascinating than he could have ever imagined.
Evan Quick is a GIANT superhero geek who dreams of one day becoming a superhero himself. Every morning he checks to see if he's developed his powers overnight, and every day there's nothing. No flying, no super strength, no invulnerability—that always hurts to check—no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to turn off the alarm clock without smacking the switch.
But then Evan somehow manages to survive a supervillian's death ray, and is sent to the Academy for Metahuman Operatives. Unfortunately, his new school is not what he expected, and instead of fighting bad guys, Evan finds himself blacklisted, and on the wrong side of the school's director. If Evan ever wants to realize his dream, he must convince his "mentor" Foxman, a semi-retired has-been, to become a real hero once again.
(I know, I know. But weirdly enough, I just don't click well with non-established superhero stories.)
So it was with a tiny bit of trepidation that I began reading School for Sidekicks. But I really shouldn't have worried, because Kelly McCullough has written a hilarious, amazing story about thirteen-year-old Evan Quick. Evan has spent his life trying to be a superhero, only to have his life turned upside down when he discovers that he's a metahuman and qualifies for the Academy of Metahuman Operatives...
From the very first page, it's impossible to resist McCullough's superb prose and world-building. He writes with a breezy confidence as he introduces us to Evan and the history of his metahuman-filled world, and we immediately believe that yes: it's absolutely possible that a mysterious bomb has resulted in a society where super-powered humans are the norm.
While Evan spends his initial chapters with the usual adoration of certain Masks (a.k.a. the good guys!), it's his post-metahuman awakening where the story truly begins to shine. McCullough does a nice job of showing both Evan and the reader, how despite the glamorized version of superhero life seen in the media, it's a position with obstacles, challenges and paperwork (!) that is just as reflective as real life.
In particular, Evan begins to realize that his assumptions of certain superhero personalities are inaccurate, and that the individuals that he has idolized and equally scorned, are actually far more human than expected. His burgeoning relationship with Foxman is both heartbreaking and funny, and McCullough does a fine job of emphasizing how the two of them genuinely need each other.
Evan also begins to grow in leaps and bounds as he comes to terms with his own powers, showing both an appreciation - though occasional lack of respect! - for superhero authority, and his own coming-of-age. There's a nice subplot involving Evan's family's adjustment to his powers, and his handling of this revelation is smart, age-appropriate, and shows a maturity that is sure to be appreciated by many teens.
Bottom line: The School for Sidekicks is hilarious, well-thought out and written with zest and wit. Kelly McCullough has not only written a great book analyzing just what it means to be a superhero and sidekick in the modern world, but the various ramifications that come along with those responsibilities.
I seriously can't wait to see if there's a sequel - please say yes, Macmillan! - and am also counting down to the days that Hollywod discovers this gem, and adapts it.