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HENCH by Natalie Zina Walschots

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.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

Title : Hench
Author : Natalie Zina Walschots
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 403
Genre : sci-fi / fantasy
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : September 22, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★  .5

Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was brutal and yet brilliant, not to say they are mutually exclusive, and I loved it. I spent a week and a half reading this (very unlike me, this year has been weird so far..) and yet even when I wasn’t, I was still thinking about it. Maybe had I blasted through it at my usual supersonic speed I would have more things to nitpick but.. this is how it went.

The vibe is much more shitty start-up than lair.”
Did you think there was a fucking lava moat?
Shut up.”
You did.
Shut up.”

If the show (or at least the premise) of The Boys intrigues you, if you love superhero stuff but want something grittier, want something that tackles the repercussions of heroism and super powers, if you want to see the villains win (maybe?) for once, you should absolutely pick this up.

Anna, do you know what this means?
That I may never walk normally again?
You fought Supercollider! You’re, like, a real supervillain!
If by ‘fought’ you mean ‘bled internally’ then, yes, the battle was long and valiant.

I honestly think that I would truly recommend you just read the synopsis for this one because I don’t think I could sell it to you any better. There are low-level henchmen pumping through excel sheets and crunching data, there is social media weaponry, there is physical therapy from an on-the-job injury, there is questioning of how far can one go even when you taking down the real bad guys, and just so much more.

Superheroes, for all their good PR, were terrible for the world.

It swings from being hilarious, thought provoking, and then gut-clenchingly gross (though to be fair this really only happens during one scene) and is made up of all the moral shades of grey. And.. yeah, I’ll say it again : so much more.

This definitely won’t be for everyone but for those who enjoy it, I think you’ll enjoy it a lot.

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