The best book I’ve ever read that starts with an unfortunate erection (and one of the best books I’ve ever read straight up)

Sidekicks by Jack D Ferraiolo

First of all, I feel like I have to disclaim this book a little. It’s definitely for a slightly older child. A tweenage one I imagine.

I’m also going to disclaim this post. I will try my absolute hardest not to spoil any of the fabulous plot twists in this novel but I can’t promise I won’t accidentally let something slip because I’m so outrageously excited about this book and enjoyed readying so much and laughed out loud like the whole way through and just want someone to talk to about it.

So if I accidentally let something  I’m very, very sorry. Please don’t let it stop you from reading this book.

Scott Hutchinson is a young plus/plus (plus speed, plus strength) who fights crime as Phantom Justice’s flamboyantly sidekick every night. He’s willing to put up with faking being a wimp at school to protect his secret identity. He doesn’t mind Trent’s constant training. He’s even getting by without having any real friends. But one night after catching an attractive hostage who was thrown of a roof and getting an erection on television he decides things have to change. By things, he mostly means his bright yellow spandex costume.

But in the midst of his struggle to get out of the spandex and into something that will restore his self confidence and self respect, events spiral out of control when Phantom Justice’s worst enemy Dr Chaotic breaks out of prison, his secret identity is discovered by Dr. Chaotic’s sidekick Monkey wrench, who happens to be a student at his school, and everything he thought he knew about being a sidekick is totally turned on its head.

I don’t even know where to start with this book and how great it is. First of all, it rips into the superhero genre with great enthusiasm. Maybe I’m just always thinking about Batman but I totally saw Batman and Robin in Phantom Justice and Bright Boy, but twisted sideways to  point out how laughable the whole concept of a dark, brooding hero and a brightly dressed distraction is. Jumping off of roofs and swinging on flagpoles has never been so funny, or weirdly feasible. Having a ridiculously amazing  multi-talented butler is ab-achingly hilarious when it’s Louis, who is a butler, personal trainer and pancake master. (I want one).

The writing is in first person present tense, which makes every moment more hilarious and more wonderful. It also allows lines like “Now I’m arguing with myself” to make perfect sense. It drives the story along at a really fast pace and adds to the suspense. Because there are a few chapters written in normal present tense (without the first person) the audience knows some REALLY FREAKING IMPORTANT AND UNEXPECTED INFORMATION THAT I TOTALLY DIDN’T SEE COMING but that just builds tension as Scott explains things as they happen and he can’t possibly know what we do. It’s so wonderful.

Also, the plot twists. Oh the plot twists. I can’t even count how many there were that I totally didn’t see coming, which is kind of rare. This might sound kind of obnoxious (in a nerdy way) but I’m usually pretty genre savvy and aware of conventions and I read TV tropes for fun (seriously, if you don’t, you’re missing out). Not that much surprises me. I was surprised right out of my mind a few times in this book.

Man, do I ever want to talk about those times right now.

Last, but certainly not least, I feel like I need to applaud any book that actually has a unfortunate erections in it. I’m not, and have never been, a tweenaged boy, so I can’t empathize exactly, but I can totally see how these situations are uncomfortable and feel like maybe we should talk about them a little more, so boys can be slightly less embarrassed by them (the same way we should talk about periods more, to avoid terrifying girls). So well done there. But there are more moments about growing up in it than just that one. Watching Scott struggling to be his own person, to be true to himself, to be faithful to Trent who’s been his guardian since he was a small child, to fall in love for the first time, on top of all the physical complications of growing up just felt really right.

And that doesn’t even count the superhero stuff.

In conclusion, this book is too epic and too fabulous to need a conclusion.

Last movie I watched: Still Superman/Batman Public Enemies. Not because I’ve been obsessively rewatching it just in case anyone’s wondering.

Last TV show I watched: Teen Titans.



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