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School for Sidekicks
by Kelly McCullough
Square Fish, PB $7.99, 404 pages
Published: August 2016

Thirteen-year-old Evan wants superpowers, but they don't seem to want him, until a life-threatening situation triggers something in Evan.  It seems to be purely defensive, however, not the snazzy sort of ability that gets you Mask status.  Still, it's enough to qualify Evan for the Academy of Metahuman Operatives, aka The School for Sidekicks.

Students help each other out with homework and figuring out the nuances of social interactions.  And they are assigned to mentors, active or retired Masks who care about the next generation. But Evan soon finds out that most adults, even Masks, see what they expect to see, and are all too easily cowed when authority, power, and intimidation are wielded by a charismatic guy who practically radiates a "Trust Me" glow. Fortunately, not all adults are stoop-backed. There is one who hates lies and injustice more than he fears retaliation. But that's the one Mask even Evan despises. 

School for Sidekicks is a cross between Harry Potter and Sky High, the 2005 movie about a school for teenage superheroes and sidekicks (and winner of the Best Name Ever Award for Warren Peace, the conflicted son of a supervillain and super-hero.) McCullough's ideas are high tech and well considered, unlike Hollywood's prestidigitatious hand-waving, so that's a major plus; he is a very funny writer, so that's great; and his character development is, as always, a boon for the soul.  If you are looking for a gift for a young, voracious reader, this is perfect - and so are McCullough's other stories  - Chris Wozney

For more titles by Kelly McCullough click here

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