Book Review: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (ALC)

Hench

Author: Natalie Zina Walschots

Narrator: Alex McKenna

Publication Date: 22 September 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Science Fiction

Length: 14 hours 14 minutes

Publisher: Harper Audio

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy? As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

When it comes to superheroes and their sidekicks, I am usually not all that interested since these stories tend to follow the same formulaic script. Hench brilliantly flips the script to give us a fresh new take on hench people, the expendable people who work for villains.

Anna Tromedlov alongside her friend June work crappy temp assignments for minor villains that no one really cares about. Anna can’t complain though because she needs to make money to be able to eat. Anna finally gets her break working for a villain, but the gig goes south leaving her injured. To make matters worse, Anna gets laid off. While unemployed, Anna starts analyzing and compiling data that shows that superheroes are actually terrible for the world.

Supervillain Leviathan takes notice of Anna’s research, and hires her to use her expertise to expose and take down superheroes.

Anna is definitely one of the most fascinating characters that I’ve read. The author does an incredible job of developing her character from this meek underling to this person of great influence and power. That’s not to say that Anna becomes any less awkward because she still fumbles when it comes to being attracted to others. Anna is the perfect amount of snark and cynicism in a world that is pretty dark and depressing.

One of the other facets of this book that I really enjoyed was the increase in levels as you move through the plot. We start at the very bottom with the henches and the meat who are used and abused by the supervillains. We slowly progress our way through the chain of command as we see the different power dynamics at play.

The pacing for the plot is steady for the most part. There is a bit in the middle that slowed down a bit as Anna’s character undergoes a transition, but it did not make me any less interested in the story.

I’m really hoping that there is a book two because after that ending, I want to see what else is in store for Anna.

Thank you to Harper Audio for providing an advanced listening copy through Edelweiss. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

One comment

  1. I’m absolutely a *sucker* for superhero/supervillain books, and this one definitely caught my attention because of the way it flips the dynamics! I can’t wait to dig into this one. I didn’t realize the supervillain was called Leviathan, but I love it! This one definitely sounds like something I’ll love.

    Like

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