cover image Strictly No Heroics

Strictly No Heroics

B.L. Radley. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-81847-8

A normal human teenager living in a world where superheroes and villains are standard grapples with high school crushes and a new summer job in this insightful, multilayered debut. Seventeen-year-old Riley Jones, who’s struggling to manage her anxiety and figure out how to tell her family she’s queer, lives by three simple rules: “Keep your head down. Don’t make enemies. Strictly no heroics.” But when she’s fired from her food service gig for smacking a hero after he sexually harasses her coworker, she gets a job at Hench, a company that supplies supervillains with all-purpose, anonymous hench-people. There, she learns that villainy isn’t always about world domination: her coworkers are, like her, just normies trying to make ends meet. Riley’s summer grows ever more complicated as the henchmen unionize, land developers look to gentrify her neighborhood, and she develops feelings for her new coworker Sherman, a gorgeous, edgy teen with plenty of attitude and secrets. Radley subverts classic comic book tropes to craft an imaginative futuristic setting grounded in realistic interpersonal challenges. In this engaging and provocative telling, Radley skillfully explores power and privilege from both human and superhuman angles. Characters are intersectionally diverse. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)