Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn
Asian-American superheroines Evie Tanaka and Aveda Jupiter protect San Francisco from perilous threats in the second book in Sarah Kuhn's snarky and smart fantasy trilogy • "The superheroine we’ve been waiting for." —Seanan McGuire
Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.
It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission.
All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.
In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.
When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever.
Series: Heroine Complex, #2
Published by Daw Books on July 4th 2017
Where to Find It: Amazon|B&N|Shop Indie|Goodreads
Genres: Urban Fantasy
FTC Disclosure: I received access to this book early through Netgalley (for free) in exchange for a review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Overall Review: Sarah Kuhn’s created a host of characters and a delightful world that feels just one layer away from reality. Her protagonists are some of the most well-developed, conflicted, amusing, self-effacing kick-ass women I’ve read in a long time and I cannot wait until their next adventure. Sarah Kuhn’s San Francisco is a city worth visiting as many times she cares to treat us to superheroine adventures. Her voice is not only fresh, witty and vibrant; it’s very necessary.
Rating: 5 out of 5
We pick up with our intrepid superhero, Aveda Jupiter, post her team’s greatest triumph to date and in the midst of life changing adjustments both personally and professionally.
In Heroine Worship events aren’t unfolding with Evie’s point of view guiding the reader. In a move, that is equal parts exciting and exasperating (but only because I really like Evie) Kuhn’s shifted the internal monologue and story perspective to Aveda Jupiter or rather, Annie Chang. This choice, brings all the unanswered questions about this character to the forefront and gives us the opportunity to experience first hand the thoughts and feelings driving (or plaguing) Aveda/Annie.
As balanced story-telling goes, this is a fantastic move. The reader gets real development of Annie and Scott’s story (for which I was all in and remain a happy fan girl), a chance to see how the others on the team view Evie and her boyfriend, team doctor and demonologist Nate, it brings a whole new dimension to both the team’s past adventures, the fall out, as well as insight into their home dynamic.
I won’t lie reading about Aveda/Annie in the Heroine Complex didn’t create many opportunities to root for her. So having a chance to really delve into her emotional baggage and self-image brought this character into three dimensions for me. It also creates a real moment of realization of how being a shitty friend and constantly caught up in your own drama can do to not only your relationships but to your own ability to trust. Understanding her hang ups cast her behavior in a completely new light and really increased my enjoyment of her better-late-than-never coming of age story.
Her journey isn’t just extraordinary (because hello, super powers) it’s real, it’s honest, and pulls you in just as deeply as reading about Evie coming into her own did. Aveda/Annie’s struggle is at turns relatable and touching. Watching as she faces her flaws (and her demons) while trying to learn to be a better friend, teammate and person more than worthy of a having at your back in a crisis.
Her perspective on the current adventure brings some of the flaws and issues the other team members into sharper focus. Their lives seen from a different angle gives you a deeper understanding of how and why this family works despite the seemingly-endless chaos constantly swirling around. By the end you’re not only cheering at the renewed demon ass-kicking, you’re as invested in Aveda/Annie as you are the rest of the team, and excited to see who’ll step front and center next.
If you’ve ever wondered what people are talking about when they say things like we need more diverse books, Kuhn’s ability to weave familial and cultural references with pop culture and her vivid brand of storytelling seamlessly brings her audience into a world where having Asian-American superheroines is not only not just a gimmick, it adds a richness to the characters that is the bedrock upon which this story thrives.
If you haven’t read, Heroine Complex, you missed out one of the most unique, relatable, and new superhero origin stories of last year. Do yourself a solid: pick them both up and move them up your reading list.
Heroine Worship is out now.