Not Your Sidekick
Not Your Sidekick is definitely my favorite book so far this year. Maybe more like my favorite book in a year--or even longer. It's not actually an exaggeration to say this might be a nearly-perfect book.
For the first three chapters, I didn't quite love it yet. I picked it up mostly to see if it would appeal to my niece, and was reading it with my adult SF/F glasses on, which meant I was kind of rolling my eyes about the whole world-full-of-superheroes-and-villains setup. But at the same time, I was laughing at the jokes and feeling sympathetic about how hard it is to be in high school. By chapter four, when the plot twists pretty dramatically on both the personal and political level, I was hooked.
The plot keeps twisting, btw, until by the end I was literally tearing up over a threat in the final battle to a character I identify with WAY too much, and all my annoyance with the world building had dissolved into admiration for how slickly put together this world is. There's also an important and timely moral in here about hero worship and how to cope when it turns out your heroes are rotten and so is the whole system.
This book is damn good. It knows what it wants to be, and achieves that in a way that looks effortless but is probably due to many hundreds of hours of hard work behind the scenes (which is pretty appropriate for a book that is in many ways about identity, and whether we really are who we claim to be). C.B. Lee is an amazing writer, and I'm excited to read the sequels. I plan to campaign for this book to get picked up for the teen book group I'm peripherally involved with. And I might actually buy a copy for my niece instead of just handing it to her and insisting that she read it before the library wants it back, which is something I have literally never done before. But I'm pretty sure she's going to want to own a copy so she can re-read it.
n.b. Got this from the library after seeing it at a vendor's table at Pride last summer; I should have just bought it then! I've never met C.B. Lee but would jump at the chance.