I finally read Heroine Complex, it has been on my shelf for….an embarrassingly long time and on my TBR for even longer! It’s one of those moments where you wonder what you’ve been waiting for!
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’s 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 is a story about Asian American superheroes, demons, and diva bosses. But it’s more than that. It’s a story about family that drives you up the walls, but that means more than you can ever put into words. A story about friendship that has become something more, something toxic and rigid when it didn’t used to be. And it’s a story about being afraid of wanting something so badly that you can’t even bear yourself to say it aloud.
I could talk about how phenomenal the story is, how we are swept away on a sea of demons shaped like cupcakes, or a world of super powers and image perfection. How the characters will pull something out of you, something from your dreams, nightmares, or fears. Even if I didn’t have moments where I thought, “me too!” then I would still read this action packed series.
Finding yourself in fiction
But it’s in the moments where I thought, “this is exactly how I felt growing up” that I really found slivers of myself in Heroine Complex. How it felt to see yourself on the screen or in the page for the first time. I don’t think I ever felt proud to be Asian American until I saw Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels. I know, that came out of left field, but it never felt clear who I’d be in stories or movies. And when that came out, my friends and were obsessed and guess who got to be Lucy Liu? Not to mention my obsession with Lucy has still got my heart in a bunch.
(And talk about a mood when one of the characters realizes she’s just been scared to want. To put her hopes on wings and voice them – because you know that to not achieve them would just be so crushing. So ultimately terrifying that it’s easier to not just want things than it is to face that fear).
But Heroine Complex is fantastically complex (I know, I’m the worst). It’s a book that talks about embracing our feelings – and not viewing them as weak – and a toxic friendship that has somehow spiraled out of control. While also being a story about empowerment, hard truths we have to see in ourselves, and relationships where we have to speak the challenging secrets.