One of the big things we pride ourselves in at Tea & Fiction is our mutual obsession with all things “super hero-ey”.
It also helps that said super hero-ey stuff takes place in the city you’re from.
As I was researching sources for my own sci-fi novel in the works I stumbled upon Heroine Complex, which focuses on the character Evie Tanaka, a personal assistant to local San Francisco superhero: Aveda Jupiter.
Heroine Complex is a very different superhero story. It takes on the perspective of the sidekick.
Basically, if Buffy‘s Willow had her own show this may be the literary comparison.
First of all, the most interesting piece of this book is that the lead character and her boss/best friend are both of Asian American descent. In the landscape of today’s superhero world, this is kind of rarity but pretty awesome. Evie is half Japanese and Aveda is Chinese American. Considering the amount of whitewashing that goes on regularly in the entertainment industry it is a nice dose of non-bleached reality.
What I enjoyed about Evie is that she is built from the ground up from the first page to the end of the book. She doesn’t want to be the center of any scene, her whole job is to shine the spotlight on Aveda. But after an accident that lands Aveda in bed for several weeks, Evie is forced to step-up and take on a role she never expected herself to play: the hero.
Evie’s resistance to being someone other than who she has been all her life is painful and refreshing and makes my awkward teenage years feel all too familiar.
A lot of times in fiction you’ll encounter giant groups of characters that get lost in the details but author Sarah Kuhn weaves beautifully crafted characters together as individual pieces working in tandem to defeat the ever-present evil forming on the horizon.
My personal favorite aspect of the book was how Kuhn crafted the all too familiar antagonistic girlfriend relationship between Evie and Aveda. Two friends, who have known each other forever, are trying to adjust to each other as “grownups”. It was probably the most relatable moment as a reader, since growing up and changing (even if you don’t develop superpowers) usually, means the relationships in your life change for the better or worse. And sometimes the change can make those relationships better and other times they disappear into the vortex the cupcake demons sprouted from.
On a final note, as a half-Asian writing/reading enthusiast, it always feels amazing to find a character that is relatable to you / looks like you. While I may not always see myself on the big screen it is extremely satisfying to read a book and immediately see yourself throwing fireballs across the page.
Oh, and I really hope there’s a Book Two in the works.