Blog Tours & Events · Reviews for Already Published Books

SIDEKICK SQUAD BLOG TOUR (Part 3): Not Your Backup by CB Lee

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Hello hello, good morning, y’all!

Today, I’m super excited to be part of the blog tour for C.B. Lee’s SIDEKICK SQUAD, which was organized by the amazing CW over at The Quiet Pond!

When I signed up to be part of the tour, I decided to select the option to do a series review. Since I hadn’t yet read the first two books, I figured it would be fun! But reviewing three books for one day…ambitious, yeah? Especially when you consider that I’ve been in a reading slump since February. *lolsobs* But! I’m excited to say that I’ve managed to fulfill my obligation (yay!).

So! As part of the tour, instead of doing a single post for the series, I decided to make it an all day celebration by writing an individual review for all three books and posting them separately! And this is the final post of my blog tour stop *sad face*.

Feel free to leave some comments and share your own thoughts on the books! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour–all linked at the end of the review posts!

Important Links!


Not Your Backup Book CoverPublisher: Duet Books
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Received From: The Quiet Pond Sidekick Squad Blog Tour / NetGalley

Emma Robledo has a few more responsibilities that the usual high school senior, but then again, she and her friends have left school to lead a fractured Resistance movement against a corrupt Heroes League of Heroes. Emma is the only member of a supercharged team without powers, and she isn’t always taken seriously. A natural leader, Emma is determined to win this battle, and when that’s done, get back to school. As the Resistance moves to challenge the League, Emma realizes where her place is in this fight: at the front.

Lambda Literary Award finalist C.B. Lee returns with the third book in her bestselling Sidekick Squad series, which has garnered both critical acclaim and fans for its joyous tone and inclusivity.

gender sexuality romantic pairings

GENDER: cisgender, transgender
SEXUALITY: questioning asexual, bisexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: questioning aromantic, biromantic
PAIRING: M/F, queerplatonic relationship

tropes tags warnings

TROPES: magical abilities/superpowers, superheroes & villains, height difference, friends to lovers
TAGS: young adult, fantasy, dystopia, romance, queer romance, queer characters, Latinx character, Black character, Vietnamese character, Chinese character, biracial character, POC author, Chinese author, queer author
WARNINGS: kidnapping, medical testing mention, nonconsensual medical testing mention, nonconsensual drugging, corrupt government, explosions, internalized queer hatred/confusion, cheating mention, natural disaster, fire


NOT YOUR BACKUP is, once again, another wonderful addition to the SIDEKICK SQUAD series, and features some incredible queer representation!

This novel was a bit more fast-paced than NOT YOUR VILLAIN, immediately jumping into the action with Emma leading the Resistance in a mission to take a hit at the League and the Collective. And it doesn’t really slow down! NOT YOUR BACKUP is full of excitingly dangerous missions, explosions–both literal and verbal, crushing betrayals, and packs an emotional punch in many different ways! The story benefits from the fact that it jumps right into action and starts where NYV leaves off, rather than going back to rehash previous events. NYB starts out at a run and continues in the same vein for the whole novel as Emma and the Sidekick Squad discover even more horrors and corruption than they already had, as they struggle to prove themselves amongst the adults and show that they’re just as helpful and useful.

But much like the previous two novels, NYB is very character driven and we get to see a lot of wonderful development in all of them, but especially Emma. As the only one without meta-human abilities, of the four main characters, she struggles the hardest to prove herself to people outside of her friend group. She works hard to find her strength and confidence, to prove that she’s just as qualified and able to help as the rest of the them, even though she doesn’t have any special abilities. It was really wonderful to watch her grow into herself and assert herself and her skills. Additionally, it was great to see Jess go through a similar process, learning that she really does have a lot to offer, and to see Bells develop his abilities even more and become so much stronger than ever anticipated. It was, however, really difficult to read the scenes with Abby in them, because she’s very clearly exhibiting signs of trauma and an inability to deal with the loss of her abilities–something that was such a fundamental part of her for years. They’re all walking down the same path, while at the same time, going in different directions personally, and I’m excited to see how that continues to develop in NOT YOUR HERO.

By far the best part of the novel, though, was the questioning and aromantic and asexual representation! In NYV, Emma and Bells briefly talk about the fact that she thinks she may identify somewhere on the asexual and aromantic spectrums, so I was interested to see where Lee would take it in NYB, and I was really pleasantly surprised and happy with how it was handled. Firstly, all Emma’s thoughts and confusion on the matter felt really organic and real to how ace and aro spec people feel and the struggles that you can go through when trying to figure out where you fit, or if the labels even do. Secondly, I appreciated the way everyone was really accepting and open to Emma talking about it and being scared and confused, how they wanted to help her but also didn’t want to push. I loved how Bells gave Emma the space to figure out what she does and doesn’t want, and he never tries to pressure her into anything and accepts what she is and isn’t comfortable with.

My favorite scene in the novel is between Emma and Sean, one of Bells’ older brothers, in which they talk about asexuality, aromanticism, and queerplatonic relationships. It was really wonderful to read two aroace spec characters talking about the identities, and I loved that Sean was able to answer a lot of questions for Emma, both from his own experience and from the experiences of other aro and/or ace people he knows. And while it was clear to me that what Emma and Bells have is a QPP, I was surprised that it was mentioned and actually talked about several times, since that aspect of queer identity is general overlooked. It was really lovely to read such a strong, loving QPR and reminded me a lot of my own QPP.

Overall, this story was really great, and I very much enjoyed how character and identity driven it was, in the midst of all the action. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book of the series!

rating4 STARSabout the author

cb_web_smCB Lee is a Lambda Literary Award nominated writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her works include the Sidekick Squad series (Duet Books), Ben 10 (Boom!) and All Out (Harper Teen). CB loves to write about queer teens, magic, superheroes, and the power of friendship.  When not nationally touring as an educator, writer and activist, CB lives in Los Angeles, where she can neither confirm nor deny being a superhero. You can learn more about her and her adventures as a bisexual disaster at

Lee’s work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Wired Magazine, and Hypable. Lee’s first novel in the Sidekick Squad series, Not Your Sidekick was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. Seven Tears at High Tide was the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Speculative Fiction categories.


buy links

Interlude Press
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

review by nicky tyler

27th May
CW @ The Quiet Pond (Introduction)
Harker @ The Hermit Librarian (NYB Review + Quotes/Who Would I Be in CB’s World?)

28th May
Shari @ Colour Me Read (NYS Review + Illustration)

29th May
Fadwa @ Word Wonders (NYB Review + Aesthetic)

30th May
Ceillie @ Let’s Fox About It (NYB Review + Character Interview)

31st May
Avery @ The Book Deviant (NYB Review + Quiz)

Rita @ Bookish Rita (NYB Review + Quiz/Aesthetic)

2nd June
Laura @ Green Tea & Paperbacks (NYB Review + Creative Post)

3rd June
Lili @ Utopia State of Mind (NYB Review + Handlettering)

4th June
Nicky @ Small Queer, Big Opinions (Trilogy Review)

5th June
Kait @ Kaitlyn Gosiaco (NYB Review + Author Interview/Aesthetic)

6th June
Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN AMERICA (NYB Review)

7th June
Janani @ The Shrinkette (Trilogy Review)

5 thoughts on “SIDEKICK SQUAD BLOG TOUR (Part 3): Not Your Backup by CB Lee

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