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Hench: A Novel de Natalie Zina Walschots
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Hench: A Novel (edició 2020)

de Natalie Zina Walschots (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2832671,056 (4.12)24
Membre:wScottR
Títol:Hench: A Novel
Autors:Natalie Zina Walschots (Autor)
Informació:William Morrow (2020), 416 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:to-read

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Hench de Natalie Zina Walschots

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» Mira també 24 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 26 (següent | mostra-les totes)
While some folks have applied the description "fun" to this debut novel, that Walschot has commented on how "too much evil and misery takes place in the name of heroism," should tell you that there is some serious satire in play here. So, instead of a hero's journey, one has the twisted path of how our protagonist, a woman who has drifted into the "gig" economy providing administrative support to assorted mid-tier villains, becomes a catalyst to a plot to take down the dominant superhero team, mostly by using the tools of data analysis and social media warfare, to spectacular affect. I'm not going to say much more than that, except to also second that Walschot has a knack of body horror that will be a deterrent some readers to picking up this book, but I thought that this was a great deconstruction of superhero tropes under modern conditions. I'll be very interested in seeing what Walschot does with this setting in the future (she is trying to pull together a follow-up). ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 15, 2021 |
As other reviewers have mentioned, this is a fun book and treats it’s subject lightly a lot of the time. But it’s also a very interesting look at trauma and how its aftereffects can shape a person’s life going forward. Anna’s injuries, which will follow her for the rest of her life, are the driving motivation for her actions throughout the latter two thirds of the book, and it’s very sad to see what they driver her to. ( )
  miken32 | Jun 15, 2021 |
{Stand alone? Urban fantasy, superheroes, contemporary} (2020)

What if superheroing were run like a business and so, therefore, would supervillaining also be. And, to help them in their dastardly deeds, what if supervillains and other calibres of villains, employed people - known as henches (supplying brain power) or Meat (likewise for brawn) in their companies? Our heroine ... er ... villainess, Anna, is one such hench.

“Anna Tromedlov,” I croaked.
“Am I speaking with . . . the Palindrome?”


(Her surname is always being mangled and, yes, her dating life fails to launch. Don’t expect romance here - though she fancies a few people - but there are some good friendships.)

Initially she survives from temp job to job analysing data and working remotely but when she takes her first step to working in the office of a minor villain, she ends up being caught in the crossfire, so to speak, when a team of superheroes (including Supercollider, the most famous hero) foils one of his schemes. While recuperating, she idly starts calculating the cost of the damage of that incident which she then extends to other superhero rescues and starts a blog which brings her to the attention of Leviathan, The supervillain, who offers her a permanent job. Then she can really bring her talents to bear against superheroes.

I must say, the incidental damage that occurs in superhero films always makes me wince, imagining what that kind of destruction would cause and cost in a normal person's life.

A budding restaurateur whose business was physically demolished by an errant eye laser. A makeup artist blinded by psionics. A parade of mortified flesh: burned, crushed, frozen, liquified. Buildings people saved years or decades to afford reduced to rubble by a hero blundering through. The endless reams of psychological damage. A litany of heroes leaving trauma blossoming in their wake.

Walschots expands that idea to henches - people who may be on the bad guys' team but are only there to earn a living and who are considered expendable by the villains they work for and by the heroes who disregard them as collateral damage.

'My point is just, if we're willing to tolerate that, who is going to care about a temp worker's spiral fracture?'
Or a photographer's spinal injury. I let that unspoken sentence hang. The journalist's experience had been similar to mine; Supercollider had learned so much of his manner and affect and approach from his old hero. Proton was vaguely apologetic, but once he was satisfied that the young photographer he had catastrophically injured wasn't a threat (with no aspirations to villainy), the hero forgot about McKinnon entirely.


She also casts a pejorative eye at the bureaucracy, in her world (where everyone is tested in school for superpowers and heroes, villains, sidekicks and henches may be cybernetically enhanced), that creates and supports superheroes.

Supercollider had a great deal in common with a diamond: aesthetically tacky; value artificially ascribed by corporate greed; cultural significance vastly overinflated; and incredibly hard to damage.
(um - she really doesn't like Supercollider, who caused her lifelong injuries)

Granted this story is told from the point of support staff to villains, so you do have to suspend your moral judgment (I assume you have one?); having done which, there are some very amusing moments. (The one that startled me into laughing out loud is too spoilerish to quote here, unfortunately.) I did find some moments a little bit ... squicky, especially towards the end (so a quarter star off for overenthusiastic vindictiveness. Even if it is 'for the greater good').

Walschots pokes fun at several superhero tropes such as superhero/ villain speeches

'Have you ever met him, Quantum?'
She looked utterly startled. 'Of course! We've fought -'
'No. Like when you were not trying to kill each other. Has he ever actually exchanged words with you.' She opened her mouth to speak. 'Delivering a monologue in the third person does not count, nor do general threats.'
'Oh. No.' She pressed her lips together and frowned, furrowing her brow and trying to think. 'We've never - no. I don't think so.'


or Quantum Entanglement, the Maori superhero Anna admires the most (or, even, at all) having to relocate to the USA from New Zealand. Because all superheroes live and work in the USA.

I did like the way ladies are portrayed and one, especially 'whom he'd kept under his thumb for the better part of twelve years', really finds her feet.

Despite the story being about supervillains/ superheroes, I can't see it appealing to kids given that it centres around working in an office, running spreadsheets and, to some extent, office culture. And (my parent-mode is going down still fighting) there is a lot of casual swearing.

This was an unusual idea (for me, anyway), grippingly told. This felt like this told Anna's story and is complete in itself ... but I do wonder which of her options she's going to choose to explore next. There was a really good idea mentioned near the end and I'd be interested in that story.

4.75 stars

just noting some quotes, before my Overdrive book expires:

She raised a perfect, threaded eyebrow. The Meat eating the sandwich unconsciously let his arm waver, and a tomato slid out from between the bread and hit the floor. Shirtless grabbed a tea towel and tried to hide his naked chest behind it.
I cleared my throat. It seemed to snap them out of their shock enough to hustle out, Shirtless still demurely trying to hide behind the tiny square of cotton towel.
( )
  humouress | Jun 5, 2021 |
3.5 stars ( )
  Stacie-C | May 8, 2021 |
Anna is a temp. Actually she’s a minor minion of ne’erdowells, a hench, in other words, working short-term contracts. It’s not great work but it pays the bills. Sometimes. Anna’s life and work changes when she takes a data entry contract with the Electric Eel. He’s really more of a wish-I-was-really-bad guy. But his ineptitude inadvertently puts Anna in harms way. Or more precisely, in invincible superhero Supercollider’s way. As she is brushed aside by the “hero” her leg shatters and so does the rest of her life. Fortunately, once she is on the mend, she finds new employment with a villain who knows better how to put her unique talents to work, Leviathan. It can only be a matter of time before an ultimate showdown is on its way.

This is a fun read. It’s rather like a children’s animated film novelization, with larger than life heroes and zeroes. It’s full of gags, spit takes, and snarky one liners. And despite the comic book violence, it’s basically very PG. It has an interesting premise but not a thoroughly thought through consideration of either its own premise or the metaphysics that makes a world with heroes possible. Anna’s gift for casuistry is disguised as a near-scientific calculus of collateral damage. Of course it’s nonsense, but, in the context of the novel, at least it’s fun nonsense.

Structurally things happen rather repetitively here, even the gags. So it can feel like a longer novel than maybe it really is as we wait for the literal punch line. A bit of fun, but not so much as to warrant passing on to others. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Apr 29, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 26 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Walschots (Doom) gleefully blurs the line between heroes and villains in this hilarious peek behind the scenes of supervillains’ lairs.... Walschots playfully pokes at both office politics and comic book absurdity while offering gripping action and gut-wrenching body horror. The inventive premise, accessible heroine, and biting wit will have readers eager for more from this talented author.
 
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