While it might not be the most groundbreaking story, I have to say I really enjoyed reading The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas.
Taking place in a world where superheroes are part of normal life, the story follows Abby Hamilton, who is a fairly typical teenager except for one thing: her older brother, Connor, is Red Comet, the city’s favorite hero. But when Abby gets into trouble, it isn’t Red Comet who comes to her rescue, but a mysterious new super, identified on the news the next day not as a hero, but as the city’s new supervillain, Iron Phantom. And this so-called villain wants Abby’s help investigating an insidious new threat to the city—one that leads back to city hall, and quite possibly, her father, Mayor Hamilton.
While it sounds like it would make for a blockbuster action movie, what I enjoyed about The Supervillain and Me is that the story actually felt smaller and more intimate than that, playing out more like a teen rom-com with superhero trappings. Think less Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes, and more your friendly, neighborhood Spiderman.
What sets this book apart is how grounded the more fantastical aspects (like people flying around in spandex) are, which goes back to Abby’s POV as the sister of a superhero. Sure, powers are impressive to her, but at the end of the day, she’s well aware that super-powered people are still people underneath the masks, and their lives aren’t all that glamorous or different—after all, she still finishes the Red Comet’s college homework for him.
Romance/high-school drama is a factor in this book, so if you’re looking for pure super-hero action, beware. While Abby & Iron Phantom are investigating a plot against the city, the focus of the story is more about Abby figuring out how much she can trust Iron Phantom without knowing who he is. I had a pretty good idea who Iron Phantom was the whole time, but that didn’t ruin it for me because I understood Abby’s logic and it was believable to me why she was slower to the realization. I will admit that there is another character who was a big enough red herring to, if not make me doubt my suspicions, put me on the lookout for some other kind of twist as to how he would fit into the big reveal.
Actually, all of the characters and their behavior felt pretty logical and believable to me. Connor takes his job as Red Comet seriously and he genuinely wants to protect both his family and the city, but he’s also an obnoxious nineteen-year-old and not above enjoying his alter ego’s fame, and Mayor Hamilton is a grief-ridden workaholic obsessed with preventing crimes like the one that killed his wife, all of which allow Abby to easily slip under their radar despite living in the same house.
All in all, I give The Supervillain and Me four stars out of five. It’s a light read, but it’s got great humor and heart, and I had a lot of fun reading it.