Only A Monster by Vanessa Len

Thanks to NetGalley & the publisher for this incredible read! It will be released in February 2022.

Themes: YA fantasy, monsters, romance, time travel

The synopsis

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

The review

This book intrigued me from its very beginning. It begins like a lot of other YA books and suddenly everything collapses. I liked Joan and her family from the start, even if they are supposed not to be likeable since they are monsters. But in this book, everything is turned upside down and we see the story happening through the eyes of those we are supposed to detest. For once, the hero isn’t telling the story and gives his place to the monsters.

Joan is an average girl on holiday, spending a good time with her family until she discovers they are monsters and that she is one too. Her situation is very interesting because her father is human and she has been raised as one. So, her reactions are the ones the reader can have when she discovers monsters are real and that they are stealing people’s lives. I also liked this idea because it shows that magic comes at a price and it adds some morality to the book which is not often the case or even well done in YA.

If you read this book, you will see that some of the characters are present just for a few pages at the beginning and then disappear from the story. But the odd thing is that you will be attached to them anyway because the author succeeds in giving them a strong background and personality in a few pages. Even more strange, I was rooting for Joan and her monster friends while hating Nick (the hero). The latter was so brainwashed and trapped in his own morality that he was insufferable. This book perfectly shows that there is never just one side to a story.

The action was happening very fast and each time I opened the book intending to reading just a few pages I ended up reading for more than one hour. I was caught up in the story and was helped by the writing which was like a movie, I could see all the scenes happening in front of me. The book is quite complex with all the characters, the different timelines and powers but also so complete that I originally thought it was a standalone but then discovered it would be a trilogy (yeah!!!). For those who usually wait for the all series to be published, don’t wait to read this book since it’s perfectly standing on its own!

And can we talk about the end? It was so refreshing! No easy resolution, no easy choice or miracle unlike what I’m used to seeing in YA. And there’s a real growth of Joan, who realises that some things can be heavy on your conscience, and especially memories. I found this analysis particularly true and poetic.

So, the only criticism I have is the trope (I don’t even know if it’s one or just a literary trend) of the heroine discovering her powers/a new world and being stupid about it. I don’t know but when you know nothing about something, you listen to the advice of people who already know the ins and outs of your situation, no? I’ve always found this to be an easy way to make the action happen and here that’s exactly the case with Joan making rash decisions when everyone’s telling her ‘uh no that’s probably not a good idea’. However, the other aspects of the book are so good, and the fact that she’s finally growing up a bit towards the end saved this book from being spoiled for me.

In brief: Well, this one is definitively one of my favourites of the year (even if theoretically it’s one of my faves for next year 😀 ). It was a surprise until the end and I can’t wait to read the next ones in the series to see more of this strange family!

My rating: 5/5

9 thoughts on “Only A Monster by Vanessa Len”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s