Heroine Complex, Book 2
By Sarah Kuhn
If you read my review of Heroine Complex last year, you’d know I’m all over this amazing series! Two badass female Asian-American heroes, fighting demons and taking names? I’m in! So when I saw the sequel was coming out this year, I pounced. And Heroine Worship delivers everything I wanted and more!
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.
That’s the longest blurb I’ve seen in a while, so I won’t talk about the plot! The biggest change compared to Heroine Complex is the different POV: we’re no longer following Evie, we’re following Aveda. Aveda feels awful for the way she treated Evie in the last book, and is working hard on fixing their relationship, and being a good friend. But it’s not always easy: now Evie is San Francisco’s beloved leading lady, and nothing Aveda can do seems to make the blogverse happy. This throws her into an identity crisis: is she Annie Chang, or Aveda Jupiter? Is she a hero or a sidekick?
My favorite thing about this series is how unabashedly honest the characters (and the author) are. There is absolutely no sugarcoating. The fallout from the last book is still being addressed, and Aveda is trying very hard to be different, but nothing seems to work. And they actually TALK about it. The unhealthy history is addressed in length, as they try to resolve their issues like adults.
I was surprised to see so little of Nate in this story, but he’s just a supporting character for Evie (they’re engaged! Finally!). The love interest in this novel is Scott, which will come as no shock to readers of Heroine Complex. Hearing Annie/Aveda’s story with him, how she say the events Evie told us about in the last book, gave us a fresh new perspective and reason to root for them together as a team. And just as in Heroine Complex, Kuhn gives us quite the relationship! There’s an intensity there that the author writes incredibly well, and we need more healthy couples in literature! (Dang, that’s hot!)
While the demonic plot was a little all over the place and I’m not quite sure was about, the real heart of this novel was on Aveda Jupiter coming to terms with Annie Chang. She is an incredibly complex character, and relatable all the way through her identity crisis. She strives for perfection in everything she does, and it still isn’t enough for the people of San Francisco, or even her own parents. People are always telling her how she should be, and not giving her the space to actually be herself. Honestly, her characterization could be the subject of hour long book club debates.
I noticed a few readers found her unlikable (at first), but for me she was more relatable than Evie. I guess I’m a lot like her: headstrong, extroverted, perfectionist, and assertive. Traits that usually get called “Bossy.” There’s an idea that since she’s a woman hero she needs to be held to a higher standard, but she’s doing her job, and she’s doing it well. Here we are talking about how Aveda needs to be a better friend to Evie, and I’m wondering if Evie couldn’t try a little more herself.
In short, here’s what I love about this series: healthy relationships, dang good romance, powerful female friendships, leading ladies of color who are aware of the power of this own image, incredible honesty, downright perfect writing about what it is to be human, and the most dynamic duo since… ever.
And of course: hilarious, laugh out loud moments! Fantastic geekery! Love in all its forms! Sexiness and dildo jokes! WHY AREN’T PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THIS SERIES?
I got a copy of this book from DAW books, which in no way affected my review. Thanks, DAW books!
Expected publication: July 4th 2017 by DAW