Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (Monsters; 1)

“It’s a real stereotype-breaker of a storyline, and I appreciated that.”

Review by Rayleigh Setser

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.

Release Date: 2/1/2022

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy / Time Travel

Pages: 416

"She said 'monster' like being a monster was as special as being an elf."

I've wanted to read this book since I first saw the cover, but it took receiving a blacked-out edition from a book box to get me to start it! My relationship with this book is a bit weird and I'm not sure if I want to rate it 3 stars or 4 stars, so I just rounded up to 4.

To begin with, I couldn't put this book down. I devoured the first half of the book in about 3 days (and had a GREAT time), but then my interest stalled because I didn't understand some of the story points and there was a lot of time-jumping (literally). It got a little hard to follow, I'm not going to lie. I would update my husband on what was happening, and he'd ask me a question and I'd just shrug and say, "I don't know". It's just a very FAST paced book that jumps around a LOT with few explanations along the way.

But besides having difficulty following the plot, I liked the characters, and I was pretty invested in Joan's life. I think the premise of the book was probably my favorite though, with heroes and monsters meaning different things in different people's stories. Where sometimes someone acting as a "hero" can be detrimental to someone else's story, and someone who only feels like a "monster" can be the saving grace to someone else's. It's a real stereotype-breaker of a storyline, and I appreciated that.

“You're a hero and I'm a monster", she whispered. "There's only one way that story ever ends.”

Overall, I'm not crazy about this book, but I do think it was good, and I definitely enjoyed my time reading it. I think the ending could've been a lot stronger, just because I didn't feel that emotional punch in the gut. I used color tabs as I read, which look STUNNING against the black edges, so it will remain on my bookshelf and I will most likely read book two!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 6 out of 10.
6. Strong action/gore (frequent and mildly detailed battle sequences and/or fights).

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 3 out of 10.
3. Moderate content (kissing & thoughts, but no grabby hands).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 5 out of 10.
5. Infrequent, moderate cursing (mild cursing paired with 2/3 strong words. Think PG-13).

Other Trigger/Content Notices:

Content disclaimers: Romance is limited to kissing and a few thoughts about touching, but nothing detailed or over the top; definitely YA-friendly. Gore can get descriptive at times and there is a LOT of action; again, YA-friendly, but I would say it’s at the higher end of the age spectrum. Cursing is still within the PG-13 scale, however, there are a couple of uses of strong cursing as well as a sprinkling of minor curse words. Additional content that readers may want to be aware of: there is a gay romance mentioned, but nothing is shown on-page.

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