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Never a Hero: Only a Monster 2

By  Vanessa Len

Reviewed by Helena

Never a Hero, written by Vanessa Len is the second in a three-book series, following Only a Monster.
This fantasy-romance, set in England, tells the story of a high school girl named Joan Chang-Hunt, who is a monster. At the end of the first book, after learning she has a forbidden power, Joan reset the timeline to prevent her family being killed by Nick, a monster hunter. In this book, everyone has forgotten what happened – except for Joan. Close to the beginning of the book she meets Nick again, but this time he has no idea who she is. A little later, when he walks into the bakery where she works, all hell breaks loose when monsters appear to kidnap her (because of her forbidden power) and kill Nick. They run away together, while Joan also tries to avoid telling Nick about the secret of monsters. They both quickly become the Monster Court’s most wanted.
As the two make their way around London trying to avoid monster guards, Nick begins to fall in love with Joan again, while Joan tries to push her feelings away – she convinces herself that they were only for the Nick she once knew. Throughout their journey, they gain help from many of the 12 monster families of London, including Joan’s older sister Ruth, Tom Hathaway and Jamie Liu, all of whom appeared in the first book. As well as these families, Joan see Aaron Oliver, a fellow monster she had developed feelings for, for the first time since she reset the timeline, and the angst can be felt through the pages.
Along with her friends, Joan must find out what has gone wrong in the new timeline – and fix it before things go even more pear-shaped. However, this adventure isn’t a piece of cake for the group. They face many challenges, hiccups, and get separated – there are plot twists around every corner of this book, and it left me feeling shocked and excited for the third book’s release.
Written in the third person with Joan as the main focus, this story very effectively keeps the reader hooked on every page, questioning what the next plot twist of the story will be.
Len’s characters are developed beautifully throughout the story, and her book is a very enjoyable read. Balancing the romance with a bit more monster content may be what is needed for this book to be even better than it already is, but in truth, I’m not complaining – I love teenage angst and romance!
Throughout this book, plot twists are a common occurrence, and while some may think there are too many, I very much enjoyed the constant switch of events. It gave the story a thrilling aspect that made me want to turn each page again and again.
Overall, this book was a joy to read. The love triangle and the theme of family or morals have me hooked on this series. I cannot wait for the next book to see how the romance progresses and how they will fare on their next adventure!
Allen & Unwin Children 2023
Helena is a StoryLinks Junior Reviewer
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