In the less than a week, superhero stories will feel less #whitewashedOUT when author Sarah Kuhn’s newest novel, Heroine Complex, hits bookshelves — digital and otherwise — all across the country. Telling the story of superhero “Aveda Jupiter” and her put upon personal assistant Evie, Heroine Complex brings something to the superhero genre that it could always use more of: interesting, multi-dimensional women of color.
In addition to the high levels of action, absurdity (I mean, demon cupcakes, yo), romance, humor, and intrigue, Heroine Complex proves that “Asian American Superheroes” aren’t that hard to imagine. The best part is that nothing about “Aveda Jupiter,” née Annie Chang, is necessarily “Asian” yet the characters are unmistakably Asian American — their mutual love of noodles and Heroic Trio come to mind. Like I’ve said before, the best way to avoid stereotypes is to draw people of color as real people.
Moreover, each character is drawn so well that I hardly noticed they weren’t actually, you know, drawn. Despite Jason Chan’s amazing cover and its superhero narrative, the book isn’t a comic book, but I could definitely picture what a graphic novel adaptation — or hell, even a live action one (hopefully not starring Emma Stone or Scarlett Johansson) — could look like.
The only thing I’d caution is that, despite the fact that it’s about superheroes, the book is definitely not for children. I know my 9-year-old daughter was super psyched to read the book (based on the cover alone), but with an initial f-bomb (of many) within the first two pages, I figured she was a couple years away from reading it herself. But, once she’s old enough, I can’t wait to share this story of amazing Asian American women heroes with her.
If you want a better sense of the book’s narrative, here’s the synopsis from the back of the Advanced Reader I received a few weeks back:
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job — blending into the background, handling her boss’ epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.
Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.
But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest secret comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles — all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.
Heroine Complex will be in stores on July 5 — THAT’S NEXT WEEK! — but you can preorder it from Amazon right now!