Sunday, August 29, 2021

I Am Not Starfire, by Mariko Tamaki (author), Yoshi Yoshitani (illustrator)

DC Comics, July 2021

Mandy does NOT love having a superhero mother, and even more the fact that people think she must have superpowers, too. Her seventeenth birthday is coming up. She's determined not to go to college, because she's sick of everyone expecting her to do things she can't do.

But her life is about to change. Really change.

Mandy is the teenage daughter of the superhero Starfire, one of the Titans. Starfire is from another planet, but she has lived on Earth since before Mandy was born. Who, exactly, Mandy's father is, is a mystery to everyone but Starfire.

Mandy, unlike her mother, has no superpowers. Her classmates, for the most part, don't believe that, and keep trying to tease and pester her into revealing the powers they assume she has. She's also dark-haired and pudgy, very different in appearance from Starfire--some of which may be deliberate. Mandy does have one good friend, Lincoln, who understands, sympathizes with, and barring her determination not to go to college, supports her "be herself, not Starfire" approach to life.

But her seventeenth birthday is approaching. One of her teachers has given the class a project, and because they always choose the same partners, has assigned them different partners this time. Mandy's assigned partner is Claire--one of the "popular girls," a girl she has a crush on, a girl whose house she had an embarrassing experience at previously, and hasn't been near since. What can possibly go right? Oh, and Mandy's mother wants to have a birthday party for her.

Claire proves to be an unexpectedly compatible study partner--and unexpectedly likable.

At least until they plan a study session at Mandy's rather than Claire's, and Claire's friends whom even Claire admits are dicks show up, and they all arrive to find Starfire holding a meeting with the Titans, and...things don't go well.

But things don't go really bad until Starfire's sister, Blackfire, shows up, and Mandy both learns unpleasant truths about her family background, and finds herself in a fight for her life. And her mother's life. A fight in which she's supposed to use the powers she doesn't have.

This is fast-paced, a lot of fun, treats the teens like real, complicated people, and being LGBTQ as just another aspect of who you are, rather than a big, hairy deal that has to be the center of the story.

I repeat, a lot of fun. And very satisfying. Recommended.

I bought this book.

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