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Heroine Complex
by Sarah Kuhn
Daw, $15.00 TPB, 376 pp
Published: July 2016

I am so too old to read this book; seriously.  This charming little story is definitely geared towards a younger generation who has grown up with social media and understands it in ways that still escape me. 

Evie Tanaka is the personal assistant and bestie with the world’s most popular superheroine:  Aveda.  Ever since the first demon portal appearing in San Francisco imbued a handful of humans with super (demonesque) powers, Aveda has styled herself the protector of San Francisco and followed that up with true kick-ass authority on subsequent demon sightings.  Evie’s job was simply to make sure Aveda always looked perfect for her fans so when the epic zit appeared on Aveda’s face it really did seem like the moment when everything changed; of course, the sprained ankle had a lot to do with it as well.  In Aveda’s self-image, she simply cannot look weak – see ‘sprained ankle’ – so somebody was going to have to appear in public as her.  And, thanks to the superpower of glamor exhibited by Scott, their resident scientist and healer, that someone is Evie.  But what terrifies Evie more than appearing in public as the ultra-cool and popular Aveda, is her own – very secret – superpower; a superpower that almost killed a building full of people.

At first it seemed the most serious challenge to their plan was the city’s most popular blogger – Maisy.  Maisy, in true passive-aggressive style, blogged about Aveda’s (now Evie’s) exploits while making sly digs whenever possible. And, although there hadn’t been a truly serious demon outbreak since the first one, there have been some very strange sightings that can’t be fully explained.  Evie, together with her team which also includes her younger sister Bea, bodyguards Lucy and hunky Nate, starts investigating what might be a bigger and worse invasion.  With Aveda bedridden, leadership seemed to settle on Evie’s shoulders like an unwelcome wet blanket; and it didn’t help that Aveda seemed determined to be jealous and catty rather than supportive.  Along with the burden of keeping everyone alive, Evie also has to deal with long-suppressed emotions bubbling up which includes discovering the joys of both carb-binging and sex with the most hunky man alive.  Oh, and teenage angst from her sister Bea over their father abandoning them tends to be a bit distracting. Yep, definitely trending themes for the 20-something generation.

It was a fun story with fast action and dialogue.  The sex scenes are not over-done; Evie’s reactions and awakening feelings are spot-on, as far as I can tell.  I did think the themes of bullying, social media and personal relationships were hit kind of hard – but without them, it wouldn’t have been the same book.  Overall, I think I can recommend this book if you’re under 30.  ~~ Catherine Book

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