Published on July 5, 2016 by Daw Books
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
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Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.
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 secret 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.
I never thought I’d be reading a book about superheroes… sorry, superheroines… and I didn’t think it would be anything like Heroine Complex. I guess I was expecting lots of action and big epic battles, awesome superpowers, all that jazz. Instead, I read a book that was fabulously down-to-earth and just felt real (despite all the demon things running around the city of San Francisco).
This book was so much fun to read. Much of that I attribute to the protagonist, Evie, who’s an assistant to her best friend who also happens to be the city’s amazing superheroine Aveda Jupiter. She puts up with a LOT and I had a lot of respect for Evie at times. Other times I wanted to her to grow a freaking backbone and stand up for herself (don’t worry, it happened). But her flaws, her decisions and how she handles the consequences, felt realistic. Human. And in this particular world that was an achievement.
I’m pretty sure the way the story’s told was entirely intentional (at least I hope so). It’s humorous, even opening with demons who possess cupcakes. The bad guys are mean girls seeking attention and otherwordly demons that come off as funny instead of scary. The real story came down to the friendship between Evie and Aveda, coming to terms with the other’s life and how they can come to work together.
Evie also gets a romance and I’m just gonna say that I wouldn’t mind having a brawny scientist in my life. That particular subplot didn’t feel forced either. Kuhn led up to it in both obvious and not-so-obvious ways that made it an “they should totally be together already” way well before it comes up.
For those looking for representation, I can’t speak in terms of how well it was done but the main character is stated as being half-Japanese and Aveda is Chinese-American. I don’t say this because I think it impacted the story in any way beyond the characters being themselves, but more for those interested in a story featuring a non-white lead.
I’m not actually sure what to call this book, if it’s an urban fantasy or not. I suppose that’s the best genre for it but you’ll find that Heroine Complex doesn’t read the same way as many of the books in the genre. As I said, it’s laced with humor that I’d expect from late night cartoons. It sets the book apart in my mind both in style and content.
This book is just plain fun. I don’t think it’s the best book I’ve ever read, but the characters were well-developed and easy to relate to both in terms of their personality and the decisions they face (cupcake demons aside, of course). I’m looking forward to checking out the sequel which follows Aveda. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of her for the way she treated Evie but I slowly came over to her side by the end and definitely think she deserves her own book.
If you’re into badass superheroines who are also insanely human, this is the book for you. With the sequel out, you can now binge the books too. Get on that, y’all. 😉