Parents: Be warned.
A generation or two back, parents used to tell their kids that comic books would rot their brains. It seems to have backfired, because those kids grew up and started making dozens of movies and television shows about superheroes. And over the past few years, a whole new subgenre of teen novels about superheroes and supervillains has evolved. Anderson’s Sidekicked (2013) was one of the better examples, but this companion novel is even wittier and much less predictable. One of the pleasures of superhero stories is guessing what’s coming next, but the joy here is that most of the time readers will guess wrong. The main character is called Michael Marion Magdalene Morn, and he’s not a superhero. In the first chapter, he robs a bank. But it’s hard to call him a villain. He has the ability to control minds, but two out of three times, he refuses to do it, on principle. Michael is as complex as the best Marvel and DC characters, and his dialogue is just as funny. The author trusts his readers enough to keep the characters ambiguous and to leave some mysteries unexplained at the end of the book.
This novel should make Anderson’s parents proud, even if they threw away his comics when he was little. His readers will just be happy. (Fantasy. 8-12)