The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis Review: Oh, they are not actually friends

March 9, 2016 by Jenna | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis Review: Oh, they are not actually friendsThe Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
Published by Penguin Australia on February 29th 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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.

The Sidekicks is an incredibly honest and insightful depiction of teenage life and everything that comes with growing up. It’s a short book but it really packs a punch. This is definitely a story that everybody can connect with in some way and that’s why I think it’s important for people to read this (even Catholic school kids).

This book follows three boys who attend the same Catholic all-boys high school. As one of them proclaims in the first line of the book, they’re not actually friends. Rather, they hang out together because they share the same best friend, Isaac. When Isaac passes away, the three have no idea where they fit in or who they are. Now faced with a future without Isaac, the boys need to figure out who they were with him and who they are without him, while dealing with the grief of losing a close friend and confidante.

The book is split into three parts, each narrated by one of the three boys. It almost felt like three novellas that converged, rather than one story. We get to see each of them deal separately with the aftermath and grief of Isaac’s death, as well as reflect on their friendship with Isaac. The three perspectives were all set during the same period of time but, even though there is a little bit of overlap in some of the events that we saw, it never felt repetitive because the boys don’t cross paths that much. I also thought that each perspective brought something different and added a new dimension to the event, which made it interesting rather than repetitive.

I thoroughly enjoyed how the three stories came together as one and the tale of friendship that we got. It was a beautiful message about how they don’t need to go their separate ways just because their common link has disappeared. Their shared loss and how they can help each other through the struggles is enough to create a new bond of friendship. The things that they did for each other were so simple but impactful, and I thought The Sidekicks really highlighted what it means to be a friend. It was a really powerful and honest friendship that is completely relatable.

I enjoyed all three of the main characters in the book. They were beautifully developed and complex, and I enjoyed how different they were from each other. We have Ryan, the champion swimmer who is an Olympic hopeful and the son of the English head teacher at his school. He’s kind of the popular kid at school because of his status as the best swimmer at his school, but nobody knows that he’s secretly gay. Nobody except Isaac, and Ryan doesn’t know what to do now that he has nobody to share his fears with. There’s also Harley, the rebel who constantly skips class and has access to illegal drugs. He struggles with feelings of abandonment after his American-born mother left him and his father to return to the States and these feelings are exacerbated by Isaac’s death. Finally, there’s Miles, the second to the dux at school. He’s the nerd of the three and spends all his time studying and speaking in perfectly grammatical sentences. And of course he carries around a book with him at all times, even to parties.

I do not trust anyone who leaves home without a book. It is just not right.

I loved all three of the perspectives and I enjoyed how different their voices were. Each voice was unique and distinct, and I felt like I really got to know each character through reading from their points of view. Miles speaks and thinks with perfect grammar and he also doesn’t use contractions. Despite coming across as a very serious and studious person, he was actually quite funny. His section of the book was also filled with transcripts and had really interesting formatting, which made the reading experience really exciting. Harley, on the other hand, does not speak with perfect grammar. He constantly uses ‘should of’ instead of ‘should have’ and he makes no apologies for that. I appreciated all the fine details that went into creating distinct voices and I loved the Harley referred to his mother as ‘Mom’ rather than ‘Mum’ because she’s American-born. Ryan had probably the most traditional voice out of the three but he was my favourite perspective to read from. I really connected with his coming-out story and the fears he had about coming out to his family and his classmates at his Catholic school.


The Sidekicks was a beautifully written story about friendship and loss. It was heart-wrenching and sad at times, but also had some really great humour. Even though it’s a short book of less than 250 pages, I thought it really packed a punch. It was impactful and had lots of little messages about strength and courage. I can’t wait to read more from Will Kostakis.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Thanks to Penguin Teen Australia for providing a review copy of the book!


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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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18 responses to “The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis Review: Oh, they are not actually friends

  1. sumlynnnguyen

    Nice review, Jenna! This sounds like such an intriguing read! The premise sounds pretty unique and I love that you get three perspectives but it's not exactly alternating. I can imagine that that's why it felt like an anthology of short stories. It's also interesting that it focuses on a Catholic school. I went to a public one growing up but I had some friends that went to religious private schools.
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    • Yeah I loved the setting of the book! I think the author might've gone to a Catholic high school himself? Not completely sure. One of the characters in the book is gay and he goes through this big struggle with hiding his sexuality because he's not sure how it'll be received at his religious school. In order to promote this book, the author was supposed to make a school appearance at a Catholic high school but he was asked not to talk about The Sidekicks because the school didn't think it was appropriate, especially because the author came out as gay on this blog a few days before that. Which shows exactly the message he was trying to get across with his book. It was super sad T_T

  2. Wowww, I love how unique each character is! Also how it's a pretty short read that packs a punch – those are usually the best contemporaries for me. The premise is really interesting, and I could see myself really getting into this one.

  3. It sounds like you really loved this book Jenna! I can see why, it sounds like such a fun book with the three different characters and how unique and diverse they are, I really love the sound of them. It definitely sounds like it packs a punch, so I can't wait to pick this one up!

    • It definitely packed a punch! Especially for a book that was under 250 pages (and contained lots of interesting formatting that didn't take up the full page). The characters were so amazing and I could read about them forever! I hope you enjoy this one, Jeann!

    • It's totally worth it! I haven't read any of his other books yet but I've heard from those who have that it's just as good as his previous books!

    • I hope all you non-Aussies can get your hands on this gem soon! Book Depository has started shipping from Australia so there are more Aussie YA books available now, but the selection is still really small! You guys need these amazing books too!

    • I hope someone gets this one for you because it's FABULOUS! It's so well-written and packs a punch even though it's such a short book. I loved it!

  4. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    This is new to me, but I'll definitely check it out some time! 😀 I love powerful books like these. 🙂

    • This book definitely hit me in the face and gave me a good case of the feels! You should definitely check out Will Kostakis and his books. They're all very powerful and he writes wonderful LGBTQ+ stories (which sadly the Catholic schools here don't appreciate enough).

    • I haven't read The First Third yet but I'll definitely be picking it up soon because The Sidekicks was AMAZING! I'm so excited for the YASquad!! Can you believe it's only a few days away?!!

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