Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

 Drew is a very sensitive kid- his five senses are amplified. He can see what his classmates are writing on tests from across the room, he can smell what the neighbors are having for dinner. He is a superhero in training, as are all the members of H.E.R.O. a school club formed by Mr. Masters, who himself is a superhero. Drew and his friends are all paired up with mentors who will train them to one day be heroes themselves.  Drew's mentor is battling demons of his own and can't help Drew as he could or indeed should.  When a strange menace begins threatening the city, Drew and his friends must come together to prevent catastrophic consequences.

      Drew's parents are blissfully unaware of his powers and his mom in particular is very protective of him. Jenna has parents that don't seem too interested in what she does so it is not too surprising when later on in the book she allows herself to be used in ways that are not in tune with the super hero code. Sometimes teenagers due to circumstances out of their control are forced to make adult decisions that dramatically alter their lives- this I think is one of the main themes of this novel.

      Fans of titles such as Almost super by Marion Jensen, Sammy Keys and the power of Justice Jack by Wendelin Van Draanen will like this book because above all it shows how vulnerable superheros can be in ordinary situations- Jenna for example is the source of some tension between Drew and the brawniest member of H.E.R.O. Gavin- a kid who can secrete granite from his pores. Anderson has crafted a fine tale here which skilfully blends teenage angst with the struggle between good and evil.

       Drew must come to terms with his feelings and Anderson spends a fair amount of time showing us how conflicted Drew is about certain things in his life. However, there is enough action in Sidekicked to keep readers interested and Anderson's writing makes you want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next.  I recommend this book for readers aged 12-16.

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