This sequel to the contemporary fantasy Only a Monster will take Joan deeper into the monster world, where treacherous secrets and even more danger await.
Despite all of the odds, Joan achieved the impossible. She reset the timeline, saved her family – and destroyed the hero, Nick.
But her success has come at a terrible cost.
She alone remembers what happened. Now, Aaron, her hard-won friend – and maybe more – is an enemy, trying to kill her. And Nick, the boy she loved, is a stranger who doesn’t even know her name. Only Joan remembers that there is a ruthless and dangerous enemy still out there.
When a deadly attack forces Joan back into the monster world as a fugitive, she finds herself on the run with Nick – as Aaron closes in.
As the danger rises – and Nick gets perilously closer to discovering the truth of what Joan did to him – Joan discovers a secret of her own. One that threatens everyone she loves.
Torn between love and family and monstrous choices, Joan must find a way to re-gather her old allies to face down the deadliest of enemies, and to save the timeline itself.
Vanessa Len’s stunning Only a Monster trilogy continues with this second instalment, a thrilling journey where a secret past threatens to unravel everyone’s future.
I was so happy when Hodderscape gave me access to that e-ARC on Netgalley because Only a Monster has been one of my favorite books from 2022! That was a formidable debut and I wanted to know what would happen to Joan, Nick, Aaron and the others “after”.
Warning: if you haven’t read “Only a Monster” but plan to read it, don’t read further as this review will certainly contain spoilers for the first book!
What’s “Never a Hero” about?
Never a Hero is the sequel of “Only a Monster” and begins soon after we left Joan when she had “unmade” Nick.
She is now somewhere on another timeline, a new timeline, where Nick is simply human and does not know Joan.
Her family does not remember the past events either and I couldn’t help thinking that it must be excruciating for Joan to remember all these things while no one else did. She went through a lot and couldn’t even talk about it. Joan was sad and lonely yet happy to know that her family was alive.
I had no idea how Vanessa Len would twist the story, what trope she would choose but I must say that I was impressed once again! She succeeded in having us follow our favorite characters again, in a mad dash to escape people, again and save the world…again without any of it feeling like a wash out copy of the first book!
We will discover more about that world, about Monsters power and history, delving deeper into concepts of timeline while also getting some short history lessons as we’ll be time traveling through London more than once!
Joan didn’t expect her actions to have consequences yet it did.
She did her best to avoid Nick but the timeline does not intend to let them live apart. And in one dramatic turn of events they’ll be allied, running for their lives.
Only Nick doesn’t remember anything, has no notion of what makes a monster travel in time. What will happen if he discovers the truth again?
And when Joan will be faced with Aaron, working for the “enemy”, that will hurt a lot too as he doesn’t remember their friendship either!
There is a lot of torn feelings and conflicted emotions in this sequel. From Joan but also Nick and Aaron. Joan is still “half”. Half Chinese and half British, half monster and half human. Whatever her choices, she’ll always be “with” one side and against the other side. That made her decisions very hard and more than once did I want to shout and urge her to make a different choice. That was equally frustrating and understandable.
Nick might now be a “simple” human, he still has all the qualities of a king of old. Noble, loyal, courageous and charismatic. Someone you’d follow in a heartbeat. And even if he does not remember Joan, both are still very drawn together, trying to protect the other at all cost.
And as for Aaaron, he still is the golden boy, beautiful beyond understanding and yet an outcast among monsters. We’ll learn more about his past and his family and honestly, I just wanted to hug him. The way he has been treated…broke my heart.
We don’t have a “real” love triangle per se but even so, I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite.
Between kidnapping, evasion, mad dash through London of the past, gathering friends and amassing enemies, we follow Joan and her allies at a brisk pace, heart beating, conflicted emotions overflowing while they try to prevent a very bleak future to happen for humanity.
I read that sequel in record time and … I need the next book as it ends on a huge cliffhanger!
I never saw the twists coming either so, bravo Mrs Len, you surprised and enthralled me once more!
Thanks for reading!