Secondhand Origin Stories
Second Sentinels #1
Publisher: Createspace Independence Publishing
Publication Date: March 15th 2018
Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.
But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a supervillain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?
Ableism, Systemic Racism, Misgendering
This book was AMAZING. Superheroes with all of the diversity and racial commentary and found families and 8 YEAR OLD ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE’S. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.
It’s your normal superhero story: we have an attack on the superheroes and their kids solving the case. And because of its generic superhero plot, this really focuses on the character AND I LOVED THEM ALL. I was so surprised when characters I disliked became… likable? The character development for them all were amazing and by the end of the book if I didn’t like them, I understood them, which is saying a lot because I’m stubborn with my opinions.
I think the thing I found really interesting was how Lee expanded on the psychological and physical costs of superhero abilities, which we don’t see in superhero movies often. It’s a constant in the story and is dealt with and explored through multiple side characters, but it also affects our main characters, too.
My favorite character out of the ensemble was Opal, no doubt. Being masculine in looks while liking feminine things and not being portrayed as “ugly” (which I have seen a lot and is not okay) isn’t something you see in books in general. She made up one the stars in my rating ❤ . Her power was a bit confusing, but it was still cool and I especially loved her relationship with her family and how she communicates with her sister using ASL.
But no, that’s not it— the friendships and the found family and THE DIVERSITY. I loved how Yael believed in Opal (I’m down for this brotp) and was loyal throughout it all. And I don’t think anyone of our main characters were straight.
Isaac was ace and deaf, Jamie— who had some health issues, had a character arc of discovering her sexuality, Opal liked girls and Yael was agender (and a shapeshifter !!!). Hell, even the Artificial Intelligence that is MARTIN asked to be addressed with they/them pronouns. AND IT WAS GREAT.
Sidenote: I think Yael was done really well, it helps that the author is an agender bisexual 🙂 .
I will admit, the beginning was iffy for me as I was getting introduced to this world and had no idea what was happening. Yael used xe (personal)/xyr (possessive) gender neutral pronouns and I had no idea what it was until it was explained. It took around the halfway mark for me to finally get fully into the story.
Look, I know I’m not making any sense, BUT I RECOMMEND. HIGHLY. FAVORITE BOOK OF APRIL HANDS DOWN.
After about a decade of drawing comics independently or with small presses, Lee started writing prose out of a combination of peer pressure and spite, then continued out of attachment to their favorite made-up people. They live in Minnesota even though it is clearly not a habitat humans were ever meant to endure, with their lovely wife/editor, the world’s most perfect baby, and books in every room of the house.
If you like categories, they’re an ENFJ Slytherin Leo. If you’re looking for demographics they’re an agender bisexual with a couple of disabilities. If you’re into lists of likes: Lee loves comics, classical art, round animals, tattoos, opera, ogling the shiner sciences, and queer stuff. Please have a look around and get to know their work!