And we’re back with another review of the Heroine Complex series. I binged these because they so seamlessly move into each other. Even though each one features a different main character, the stories link together and while you don’t need to read the whole series, it is a deeper experience if you do so.
If there’s one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it’s normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of “should haves.” Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city’s plethora of demon threats.
But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be–even though she’s now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace’s more difficult customers. Sure, she’s not technically supposed to be playing with people’s mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?
When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that’s about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her “should haves” into the fabulous heroic life she’s always wanted. But gaining that life may mean sacrificing everything–and everyone–she holds dear…
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
In the final installment of the Heroic Trio, Kuhn shines the spotlight on Bea. Before we looked at characters who had worked for superhero status, who were defined by their powers, or who had never wanted powers to begin with. But Bea is an entirely different case – there’s nothing she seems to want more than to be a part of the superhero squad. Constantly being put on the side burner, Bea struggles to manage what she wants with her relationships, her future, and her family.
Family, Responsibility, of Women of Color
By this point, you should know that Kuhn delivers whip smart dialogue, fast paced action, and character journeys. But there is consistently a few things that stand out to me from the entire series such as the emphasis on family, the forefront of these superheroines of color, and, which Heroine’s Journey examines in detail, the responsibility of our powers. Not only does this book deal with Bea’s relationship to her sister Evie, but her dad makes a sudden appearance and secrets, and mystery, surround their mom surfaces. Talk about complex relationships, and Kuhn isn’t afraid to give the people their fair share of weaknesses.
The strings of this series continue to pull tighter, wrapping you up in a cohesive and compelling world. And what really sets Kuhn apart, in my opinion, is the continued discussion of the pressures put on superheroines of color. We realize that while her family might be trying to protect her from danger, there’s more danger than just bodily harm. The way women are put into the spotlight and the fights they have had to win throughout the two previous books.
And finally, Heroine’s Journey looks at the temptation of power. How our code of ethics can so quickly keep slipping. Down a slippery slope of, “just this one time”, and “this time is different”. Bea’s power is even more ‘dangerous’ since it involves emotional manipulation, something we’ve seen already in Heroine’s Worship. And really, Heroine’s Journey is still about even more – our fear of being left behind, of our choices to be who we are without pressure, and our decisions to try to be who we are instead of of who we should be.