The lifetime of 16-year-old Joan Chang-Hunt, the protagonist of Vanessa Len’s young-adult fantasy “Solely a Monster,” is not precisely regular, however it’s actually her household’s fault. Joan spends each summer time wedged into the massive London residence of her grandmother, cousins, aunts, and uncles, who’re identified for his or her eccentric vogue tastes and behavior of discussing artwork heists over breakfast. Joan loves them, however she would not precisely slot in: she’s half-Chinese language, she lives together with her dad more often than not, and she or he’s fairly atypical other than a more-passionate-than-usual obsession with historical past.

That summer time, although, Joan unintentionally discovers what she really is: half-human, half-monster, a creature with the power to journey by means of time by stealing it from people and shortening the human’s lifespan because of this. What’s worse, her entire household — the unusual, humorous individuals she loves — have been doing this all their lives, poaching years from the unsuspecting people round them. It is a betrayal Joan can barely even course of earlier than a horrific tragedy strikes, dumping her right into a monster world she is aware of virtually nothing about. The one one that can assist her is Aaron Oliver, the disgraced scion of a rival monster household whose personal motivations are shady at greatest.

Aaron and Joan journey again by means of time and seek for a option to undo what occurred, despite the fact that messing with the timeline is strictly forbidden. Caught within the Nineties, Joan nonetheless cannot cease pondering again to the current day and to Nick, the boy from her summer time job who wasn’t the conventional human he gave the impression to be. Nick and Joan’s paths are destined to cross once more, tangling them each in a storyline that is half fairy story, half legend, and brings them to the guts of the mysterious Monster Courtroom and the foundational truths underpinning this secret world.

If the magic system sounds just a little crowded, nicely, it’s. Len juggles it nicely, although, and the complexity comes off as fascinating somewhat than complicated. In addition to the time journey, there is a breakdown of the completely different monster households that share London amongst themselves, every household with its personal particular energy and expertise: “Olivers see. Hunts cover. Nowaks reside. Patels bind . . .” It is a world with nooks and crannies and facet alleys that you simply wish to hold round and discover, and Len offers you simply sufficient of a style to go away you wanting extra.

The issues Joan faces inside this layered fantasy world have the best attainable stakes, and she or he’s a stable heroine, courageous however scared, fascinated and terrified by her personal mysterious powers. The ending was among the best components of the e book, an intriguing twist that pressured Joan to confront the potential for darkness inside herself. Her romance with Nick, although, did really feel considerably rushed. The plot rapidly pulls them in separate instructions, so we by no means get to expertise why their attraction to one another, which is central to the plot, is sort of so robust. The juicy enemies-to-? subplot with Aaron, then again, undoubtedly has potential as this obvious collection continues.

Standout Quote

“In films, heroes killed monsters on a regular basis. When the digicam moved from the monsters’ our bodies, you by no means had to consider them once more.

“However when you had been the monster, when the monsters killed had been the individuals you really liked . . .”

Learn This If You Like . . .

Fairy tales with a depraved twist.

POPSUGAR Studying Problem Prompts

This novel can verify off multiple 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge immediate; simply choose the one that matches greatest for you.

  • A e book published in 2022
  • A e book that takes place throughout your favourite season (summer time)
  • A e book a couple of secret
  • A e book that includes a celebration

How Lengthy It Takes to Learn

“Solely a Monster” strikes quick however it’s complicated and on the heftier facet at 403 pages. I might give it per week to per week and a half.

The Candy Spot Abstract

With “Only a Monster” ($17), Vanessa Len creates a contemporary and wholly surprising world, the place darkish, time-stealing magic runs alongside the fact we thought we knew. It is the right mixture of darkish and charming, and Joan Chang-Hunt is a heroine value rooting for.


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