Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Summary from GoodReads:
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.
“Joan quashed the hope again. There wasn’t going to be a happy ending, she reminded herself. She was a monster and he was a hero. Everyone knew how that story ended.”
This book received a lot of hype right before it came out, and boy did it deserve it! This was such a fresh and interesting take on time travel and what it means to be a hero or a monster. Lots of morally gray areas in this one and the monsters are what you would typically think.
I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book. Even the minor ones felt real to me. The story is solely told from the point of view of Joan, who is half human (Chinese) and half monster. She doesn’t really know about the monster half as that side of the family never really tells her about it, because they don’t think she has the power to time travel. When she accidently does it, she is totally shocked and confused by the experience. Joan was such a delight, although she did pine a little to much about Nick, who honestly she doesn’t know all that well. But she was brave and really worked hard to make things right with herself, her family and what it meant to be a monster.
The other characters that we got to know well, were also well done and well fleshed out. Ruth, Joan’s cousin, was often the voice of reason and was the one who really helped Joan. I really liked Aaron as well, although he was a little standoffish at first. His family is rather ruthless, but he doesn’t seem to follow in their footsteps. He helps Joan quite a bit in the story. There is a little bit of a love triangle between Joan, Nick and Aaron that I’m not sure how it will play out in the other books.
The world building is very well done for a debut book. Joan’s family are called monsters because they steal time from humans in order to time travel. They typically only steal a small amount from each person, but they can kill someone by taking all of their time. Nick, the hero, and his group don’t think this is a nice thing, so they have decided that all of the monsters must die, even those who don’t kill anyone. So who is the real monster here?
The writing was also well done, although there were a few areas that were slow and the dialogue was static at times. I loved the descriptions of the places Joan visited, especially the monster market, where you could get just about anything from any time. The plot was also so well done, with some plot twists and how time travel affects reality. There is also a lot of times that will you be thinking about what it means to be a monster.
So if you are looking for a really good time travel book that is different from all the rest, give this one a try. If you are not a fan of time travel, give this one a try. It is fun, but also dark and the plot will keep you invested in the story and the characters. I can’t wait to see where this story goes in the next book.