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 is an author I’ve heard a lot about, but whose work I’ve never read. Given that his book The First Third received such high praise, and Kostakis has been in the press quite a bit recently, I decided to check out his most recent effort. Ultimately, this book left me wanting more – more from the characters, and more from the author.
The Sidekicks is split into three sections – we get the aftermath of Isaac’s death from Ryan, Harley, and Miles’ perspectives, with a slight overlap of events in each account. You really need to commend Kostakis here – it could’ve easily ended up a disjointed mess, but you walk away from this book feeling like you got to see the big picture. That said, there were times where it felt less like one coherent novel, and more like a collection of short novellas. Kostakis is quite good at characterising the leads – Ryan, Harley and Miles all have distinct voices, and despite the shortness of the book, all were fully developed characters with their own flaws and problems. The same can not be said for the side characters – teachers, other boys at school, they all seemed to blend in to one another. They felt like placeholders, rather than actual characters. I struggled to remember the smaller characters as we jumped from section to section and went back and forth over events.
Given the subject matter, I was expecting to feel more. It never really felt like the boys were grieving, just going through the motions of it. I was told that they were in pain, but I never really saw it. It felt like they only cared because Isaac held their secrets, but that was all he was good for. However, I did like that Kostakis seemed to be sending the message that grief is not “one size fits all,” that people experience grief in different ways. Also, that ending – that ending really did make me feel something. It was so heartwarming and… delightful to watch this unexpected friendship form.
Kostakis does have an easy writing style – there’s something about it that keeps you glued to the pages. There’s some great comedic moments in there despite the heavy subject matter, and the ending will leave you feeling a little uplifted.
All in all, a great concept of a book – maybe not perfectly executed, but enjoyable nonetheless. It’s a good little book about friendship and loss. Kostakis has managed to cover a lot in such a short novel, and I really do think it’ll be a hit amongst the YA crowd.
Please note: this review originally appeared on my blog, What Kim Read Next. It has been reformatted and edited.