Heroine Worship, Superhero Fiction by Sarah Kuhn
Series: Heroine Complex #2
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is one of my favourite series, so when I saw it on NetGalley, I may have broken my mouse from clicking “request” so hard. I saw the title in the subject line of an email and tried to cushion myself for a declined notification, but no! I got an ARC! Thank you DAW and NetGalley~!
I loved Heroine Complex so much I recommended it (and she liked it too) more than once and even had it recced back to me when I was looking for good superhero fiction. Both books are commendable for both empowering female characters–there are so many!–and Asian-American representation. They’re also both decent mysteries in an excellent original superhero universe.
While probably more people will have bonded/empathised with Evie Tanaka as the main character of HC, I was more on board with Aveda Jupiter, originally Annie Chang, who has recently decided to give up her diva ways and be an awesome badass while also being a good friend. Annie is terribly divided, and wrecked by the opinions of those around her. It was heart-wringing to see her mother’s constant disapproval, and the way that everyone seemed to deify Evie, most gleefully when Aveda Jupiter suffered for it. Whether in status or her self.
It feels like a spoiler to say that Evie gets engaged, but it’s in the blurb and it’s in the theme. Other brides start popping up like weeds and losing their minds. I’m still not sure if it’s just a joke or a rather clever deconstruction, considering that things like “bridezilla” are nasty ways of dehumanising women. This is sort of addressed even. No spoilers.
Some of the characters were weaker this go-round, but I could easily see why. Nate is almost nonexistent–of course he isn’t the love interest, there’s someone else for that, and it was beautifully set up in the first book, even. But Evie suffers a little from silence and being coddled by other characters. I found myself disliking her, because it seemed as if the reconciliation that both she and Aveda were so relieved by and invested in, was just an excuse for Evie to have her way all the time and take her turn as a shitty friend who doesn’t have to ask how the other is. That all turned around in the end. There’s so much communication in the build-up at the end and really throughout most of the story that I literally cried a couple of times. It’s so refreshing to know that the characters I’m reading about are adults and I never forget it because they act like adults.
The writing is rather like kunafeh mixed with hi-chew. A great, sweet dessert that hits all my marks, while also being a little silly and incredibly standout. Personally, I felt like some of the slang dated it or made things weird, but that was mostly coming from Evie’s younger sister Bea, and that’s probably part of the joke. Some lines are just unbearably awesome, good-weird, or funny. I’m going to be saying, “you mind-melded with the puppy,” out of context for days.
In Heroine Complex, I loved the setup for Aveda and Scott, and I liked them individually, so I could have loved Heroine Worship on the romance count alone. They’re going through a lot of the same difficulties, and most importantly, Scott seems to be the only one who sees Aveda’s difficulties right away. What keeps them apart isn’t this giant epic thing, but it’s believable and terribly human.
There was nothing in this book I didn’t love, from the friendships to the romance, to the world-building, to the fight scenes. I could go on forever, and I may have to come back and amend this review to do that while I wait for the third book. 2018 is too far away!