Book Review: The Sidekicks
Title: The Sidekicks
Author: Will Kostakis
Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia
Date of Publication: February 29th 2016
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Genre: YA Contemporary
Three boys are called to the Principal's office. For one this is a reasonably regular occurrence, but for the others it's a little more unusual, and none of them expected to see the others there. Within they find out that their friend, Isaac, has died. The details are sketchy and none of them can really absorb the news at that point. They can't turn to each other - they weren't friends, Isaac was their common denominator and without him they have nothing to keep them together.
What follows is each of the three, Ryan, Harley and Miles, coming to terms with their loss and trying to find their new normal without Isaac. With no real idea how to relate to each other without the buffer of Isaac, the three struggle to relate to each other, and to fill the hole that Isaac has left.
Ryan is a promising swimmer, an Olympic hopeful. His mum is head of English at the exclusive boys' school he and the other characters attend which buys Ryan a little leeway. Isaac was the only person who knew all of Ryan's secrets.
Harley is the guy who knows a guy if there's something you're after. He and Isaac would party together. A boarder at the school, he spent a fair bit of time at Isaac's house.
Miles' mind doesn't quite work like most people's. The others can't really see what he and Isaac had in common, and even Miles doesn't really understand their friendship.
Will Kostakis plays with form in this book. Rather than being told in chapters with alternating viewpoints, each boy has his own viewpoint told in a block, which means we get the bits and pieces of the story that each boy knows, rather than seeing the events unfold chronologically. Having the story structured this way means we really get to know each boy, and get a chance to fall in love with them.
Each character has his own distinct voice, and each saw a very different side to Isaac. Harley was my favourite by far. I just wanted to adopt him and take him home. I really liked Ryan and my heart ached for him. Miles I found harder to relate to. He thinks in very visual and cinematic terms which is just too different to how I think, so I couldn't warm to him as much as the others.
There is so much emotion in this story. It explores grief and loss and the nature of friendship. It is beautifully written with characters who are so real that they jump off the page. I loved it.
The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.
All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac's gone, what does that make them?
Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, perfectly depicts the pain and pleasure of this teenage world, piecing together three points of view with intricate splendour.