By Heather A.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.
Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.
But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.
A galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Heroine Complex features a lot of details that I was unknowingly wishing for in a novel (#MSWL). It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and it mostly has to do with how fresh it felt. For so long people have been asking for diverse books and this felt so normal — not forced or trend-based. Obviously fighting demons in a alt-San Fran is not “normal,” but the author made it seem normal.
Things that make this book kick-ass:
- Cool concept: Side-kick to a local superhero, awesome powers, demon hunting, and the protagonist, Evie, is kind of amazing.
- Diversity: TBH, I’m always looking for diverse books, but this book is an excellent addition to the superhero genre and diverse books movement.
- Sex: The subject is more new adult so I also think it fits well there. I didn’t realize it was going to be so steamy!!
- The cover: We all judge books by their covers (don’t deny it!) and every time I look at this cover I find something new and interesting. I love that it has a comic book vibe even though it is not a graphic novel.
- Complex characters: Everyone in the superhero group had their own agendas, histories, and emotions. I appreciated how much these characters were fleshed out. Evie’s character arc relied so much on emotions that it felt really satisfying at the end.
Much of the novel focuses on Evie jumping into new situations and learning to control her emotions in a way that is constructive. At first, I found this to be grating. I didn’t understand how she could compartmentalize her anger, but as I continued reading, I understood that everyone deals with their emotions differently. For Evie, it means eating cereal for every meal, repeating mantras when she is stressed, and generally ignoring whatever is bothering her. The journey to realizing that she has control, not just of her emotions, but also over her fire power, is something that really pulled me through the novel. And there are especially funny scenes when she’s hooking up with Nate and almost burns down a bar!
The novel is also about friendship. Aveda (Annie) Jupiter has been best friends with Evie since they were kids and they were both bullied for being Asian. But as Aveda steps into the roll of superhero, her friendship with Evie morphs into something that takes advantage of Evie. And since Evie is so scared of herself and her power, Evie lets it happen. So while all the demon fighting is going on, Evie and Aveda have to learn to compromise, work together, and find a better ground to re-build their friendship as adults. Aveda always asks for things, but does not reciprocate the friendship that Evie is giving, which comes to a head near the climax of the novel.
I really loved Nate as a character, too. His backstory, once we finally find out, is not really something I thought possible for the logic of the story, but it works to explain his motivations and attraction to Evie (her power is pretty strong, though he does like her for other reasons).
To wrap this up, the reasons I listed above should be good enough to consider reading this novel. It’s a lot of fun and a good summer read!