Battle Angel Aveda

Heroine WorshipAveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis in the latest novel by Sarah Kuhn. Was she a flamboyant superhero guardian angel from San Francisco? Was she an “attention-hog diva and raging bossypants bitch”? Or was she simply a bad Chinese American daughter who was a constant disappointment to her parents?

Eight years ago, 18-year-old Annie Chang reinvented herself as Aveda Jupiter and quickly became a glamorous celebrity in Golden Gate City. Back then she was a professional superheroine and city-saver with an aptitude for powerful roundhouse kicks and a penchant for excellent outfits. Her role model was Battle Angel Alita, and her motto was “Don’t fix the problem. Kick its ass.”

But these days she was a “professional identity-crisis-haver adrift in a city that didn’t currently need superheroes – and maybe never would again.” Somehow she had lost her awesome Aveda Jupiter mojo (see our review of Heroine Complex for more details).

The problem was that Aveda worked extra hard to suppress her former Annie Chang personality. She wanted to be a fearsome superheroine 24 hours a day. And as far as she was concerned, little Annie Chang was holding her back. The pipsqueak was like Clark Kent: boring, weak, and mundane, hiding all of his superheroic light.

She was wrong of course. Whether she admitted it or not, Aveda and Annie were inseparably the same person. As a superhero, she was fabulous, dazzling, and larger than life. She had excellent muscle definition too. But without Annie Chang at her side she was nothing. She couldn’t exist without her. Just like Superman and Clark Kent.

Annie made Aveda more of a battle angel bruiser, not less. Said Evie Tanaka, her best friend since kindergarten: “You’re a badass superheroine who’s embracing her human side and learning how to use her relentless determination and truly awesome assertiveness as a Forceful Bludgeon for Good.”

Consequently, Aveda Jupiter 2.0 (aka Forceful Bludgeon for Good) spends the rest of the novel trying to reconcile her messy younger self with the “bossypants bitch” she was now. As a result, she becomes a better superhero, a better friend, and a better daughter. In addition, she even gets to have sex with her high school crush. It’s all good.

Like its predecessor, Heroine Worship is funny and snarky. But what we liked best about the new novel is that author Kuhn allows her hero to display a full range of emotions, good and bad. “I never mastered the stereotypical Asian repression of feelings,” said Aveda. “I’m dramatic, and loud, and aggressive. That’s who I am.” Thank goodness.

[Heroine Worship / By Sarah Kuhn / First Printing: July 2017 / ISBN: 9780756413262]

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