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Hench

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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 assign 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.


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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 assign 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.

30 review for Hench

  1. 5 out of 5

    chai ♡

    3,5 stars! rtc

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Putnam

    Hench Aug 2020 Yikes, two stars. I really wanted to like this one too. I won it on Goodreads giveaway. The premise sounded so interesting and promising. And it started out just so. Great Point of view, strong female character, good writing craft. The first part of the book had me all the way while she built the new world. It came out natural and easy to follow. I always talk about the Fictive Dream and as the book progressed I got dumped out too many times. This was caused mainly by my own inabil Hench Aug 2020 Yikes, two stars. I really wanted to like this one too. I won it on Goodreads giveaway. The premise sounded so interesting and promising. And it started out just so. Great Point of view, strong female character, good writing craft. The first part of the book had me all the way while she built the new world. It came out natural and easy to follow. I always talk about the Fictive Dream and as the book progressed I got dumped out too many times. This was caused mainly by my own inability to suspension disbelief. For me it was a tad over the top. The story is about a temp (work) agency that supplies Hench or henchmen/women for villains to help with their villainy. What a great premise, loved it. Let me say I am not a fan of superhero movies and I realize lots of folks are. I'm absolutely sure other readers will love this book. David Putnam author of the Bruno Johnson series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    Hench didn’t end up being what I thought it was going to be. I suppose that’s my fault, because halfway through I went to re-read the synopsis and it turned out to be pretty faithful to the events of the novel. Suffice to say, I was expecting more action. What this was instead was essentially ‘super accounting’ with some mean-spirited pranks thrown in for good measure. I don’t think that’s necessarily a knock against the book. Natalie Zina Walschots writes with a lot of momentum and charisma. Her Hench didn’t end up being what I thought it was going to be. I suppose that’s my fault, because halfway through I went to re-read the synopsis and it turned out to be pretty faithful to the events of the novel. Suffice to say, I was expecting more action. What this was instead was essentially ‘super accounting’ with some mean-spirited pranks thrown in for good measure. I don’t think that’s necessarily a knock against the book. Natalie Zina Walschots writes with a lot of momentum and charisma. Her characters are interesting, even if some end up being a little flat. But I initially used a gif of Homelander from the Amazon Prime show The Boys and I don’t think that was an apt comparison at all. It wasn’t a comparison I came up with myself, but one that was used in some of the marketing material by the publisher. I just want to dispel any assumptions that might be made about Hench resembling something like The Boys or Watchmen so that people don’t go into this expecting one thing and then leave feeling disappointed. What Hench is very successful at is larger societal observations and critiques. There are parallels between the ‘Heroes’ and the damage and cost inflicted by, say, the military industrial complex. There’s commentary on the role of social media in spreading both information and misinformation, some of which may be applicable to the #MeToo movement. The way that the super-powered act with impunity and are glorified to the point of being worshipped resembles how law enforcement in this country are treated much the same way. It’s impressive the way Walschots is able to extract some of these finer points which are typically ignored in superhero stories. That said, the story itself was pretty mundane. A lot of time is spent analyzing data or trying to cause interpersonal conflicts between supers. For someone supposedly working for one of the great ‘Super Villains’, Anna’s antics are fairly benign. There’s also a substantial part spent going over her various injuries and healing time and procedures and physical therapy, etc. I just got bored when it felt like her story had stalled yet again. I understand this is probably one of the more realistic depictions of what a society with super-powered people would be like, but to be honest I didn’t go into a book like this hoping for someone struggling to pay medical bills or dealing with roommate drama. That’s just a little real for me, with not enough of the fantastical mixed in. I still think this is a good book, and I’d read more by the author. But I just don’t know if this is one that I would prioritize in an already bloated genre. The ending also gets unexpectedly gruesome in a way that was difficult to sit through. I don’t know, maybe someone who usually avoids the Marvel of it all or is just *deep* into the lore would enjoy this more. I just can’t stop thinking about some of those earlier Agents of Shield episodes where they had Phil Coulson with a broom and dustpan cleaning up whatever mess the Avengers had just made. It’s all a little to bleak and ordinary for me to really enjoy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    It's got a great premise and the story is really interesting. But. The ending is weird. Now, it doesn't end on a cliffhanger or anything, but there was just something dissatisfying about it when I closed the book. It feels as though this was going to be a series of books instead of a one and done, if that makes sense? Maybe it is? <--how should I know?! Other than the odd conclusion, why wasn't a book about henchmen (hencepeople) a complete win for me? Bottom line, Anna is a whiny asshole. I mean, It's got a great premise and the story is really interesting. But. The ending is weird. Now, it doesn't end on a cliffhanger or anything, but there was just something dissatisfying about it when I closed the book. It feels as though this was going to be a series of books instead of a one and done, if that makes sense? Maybe it is? <--how should I know?! Other than the odd conclusion, why wasn't a book about henchmen (hencepeople) a complete win for me? Bottom line, Anna is a whiny asshole. I mean, you want to root for her, right? But the thing is, she never takes any responsibility for her role in getting injured. Ever. Like, even at the end of the book when you're hoping that she grows as a henchperson! Nothing. She never looks around and goes, Well. Hell, maybe I shouldn't have been doing shitty stuff to other people. Nope. And maybe that's what is unsatisfying. She isn't so much evil as she is completely unaware of how obnoxiously self-centered she is about hurting other people in the attempt to hurt someone for hurting her. I could have gotten behind someone who ended up with her injuries who had just been an innocent bystander. The loss of life, the pain and suffering, and the property damage that was due to the overkill responses from the superheroes was definitely ridiculous. It wasn't that she wasn't right, it was that she wasn't the person who actually deserved to bitch about it. Yes, the hero that she's out to take down is a giant douche. So, it's not like you feel sorry for him, but Anna and her boss hurt plenty of undeserving people in their crazy revenge scheme. And not in a fun anti-hero way. And I get it. Anna got really hurt by this guy. <--she walks with a permanent limp now because he tossed her across a room. But she got hurt while helping a villain try to cut the finger off of a 12 year old boy for ransom. Sooooo. Yeah. Sorry your leg got fucked, sweetheart. But also, you kind of signed up for it. On the upside, the story was well-written, and I was interested in what was happening the entire time. It's a pretty cool world that Walschots has created here, even if I don't quite know how to feel about everything. And if there are somehow more stories about these characters, I think I'd be pretty likely to pick that book up. Alex McKenna - Narrator

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    Omg this is a novel about a supervillain's henchwoman. YES Omg this is a novel about a supervillain's henchwoman. YES

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz

    Hench expertly deconstructs superhero stories and offers a fresh perspective on the subgenre. Instead of following heroes, it focuses on Henches, expendable employees of supervillains. Anna Tromedlov works temp jobs for minor baddies. Her newest job ends in a disaster - Anna ends injured, out of work, and disillusioned with reckless superheroes who pay no attention to casualties of their superhuman feats. Her data-based research confirms superheroes, for all their good PR, are terrible for the w Hench expertly deconstructs superhero stories and offers a fresh perspective on the subgenre. Instead of following heroes, it focuses on Henches, expendable employees of supervillains. Anna Tromedlov works temp jobs for minor baddies. Her newest job ends in a disaster - Anna ends injured, out of work, and disillusioned with reckless superheroes who pay no attention to casualties of their superhuman feats. Her data-based research confirms superheroes, for all their good PR, are terrible for the world. They're a pest. Or worse. When Leviathan, an A-List Supervillain, hires her as a Hench, she can use her anger, data analysis skills, and excel sheets to wreak havoc in heroes' lives. Trust me when I say data analysis proves more lethal than laser beams or psychic powers. Make them late; make things go wrong around them; ruin their dry cleaning and dinners and marriages. Fuck with their social media profiles and public perception. Anna's work has one goal - to publicly humiliate heroes and make their private and public lives as miserable as possible. Thanks to modern technology, rumors, social-engineering, social media, and viral videos, she controls how the public perceives them and how they interact with others. While Hench doesn't have a lot to say about superheroes that hasn't been said before, it offers a unique perspective. I wouldn't call Anna relatable, but I appreciate her agency. Despite the success of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel many superhero stories lack strong female leads. It's good to finally see a competent female character with an understandable backstory, her own agenda, and loads of screen-time. Her doubts make her more believable and human. The way she ruins her private life shows everything comes at a cost. Interestingly, Anna bores most superheroes no ill will. She destroys them to get to a Supercollider, her, and her employer's Nemesis. Walschots' take on emotional detachment impressed me. Thanks to snarky (and slightly cynical) humor, the story never gets depressing or too dark. Even when things do get dark and depressive. The plot follows her jobs, and it's not linear. Instead, we witness the turning points of her professional life leading to a brutal climax and excellent ending that I find fitting, even if it's more bitter than sweet. In all, a worthwhile read for fans of the subgenre.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    I loved this! Hench imagines what life is like when you are part of the Supervillain's admin staff. Anna's speciality is data analysis and strategizing the downfall of Heroes through careful planning. Her technique is the data analysis equivalent of death by 1000 cuts, or in this case, micro-manipulation of events. For me the book was massively enjoyable and compulsively readable. I would love to see the author write a sequel! One of my favourite reads for 2020. I loved this! Hench imagines what life is like when you are part of the Supervillain's admin staff. Anna's speciality is data analysis and strategizing the downfall of Heroes through careful planning. Her technique is the data analysis equivalent of death by 1000 cuts, or in this case, micro-manipulation of events. For me the book was massively enjoyable and compulsively readable. I would love to see the author write a sequel! One of my favourite reads for 2020.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Anna is a hench, which is basically an assistant to supervillains. While I can watch superhero movies for 2 hours of mindless entertainment I don’t think that I have ever read about super heroes and villains before, and I probably won’t again. After Anna and other henches are injured in a failed child hostage situation she becomes obsessed with proving that superheroes actually cause harm to society. She is eventually hired by supervillain Leviathan to help him disrupt and destroy superheroes. T Anna is a hench, which is basically an assistant to supervillains. While I can watch superhero movies for 2 hours of mindless entertainment I don’t think that I have ever read about super heroes and villains before, and I probably won’t again. After Anna and other henches are injured in a failed child hostage situation she becomes obsessed with proving that superheroes actually cause harm to society. She is eventually hired by supervillain Leviathan to help him disrupt and destroy superheroes. This book isn’t sharp enough to be satirical and the characters are not charismatic enough to actually get us on the side of supervillains. Even Anna doesn’t seem to understand what side she is on. Sometimes she hates superheroes because they kill henches and cost society. Sometimes she hates supervillains because they are her bosses. Sometimes she crushes on her boss. The book is an ethical and logical mess. It’s also too long, I skimmed a lot in the second half of the book. 2.5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Gail

    This synopsis is giving me Dr. Horrible vibes and I am HERE FOR IT. This synopsis is giving me Dr. Horrible vibes and I am HERE FOR IT.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    You will never look at super heroes or super villains the same way again. What started out as a commentary on the millennial gig economy (because hey, villains need data entry and organization as well) quickly morphs into betrayal, scheming, mean vindictive pranks, inadvertent lol in horror and above all, loyalty. Anna’s unique point of view brings forward the fallout, one rarely thanks about: the collateral damage that super heroes wreak when ‘saving’ the world. One can see that the line betwee You will never look at super heroes or super villains the same way again. What started out as a commentary on the millennial gig economy (because hey, villains need data entry and organization as well) quickly morphs into betrayal, scheming, mean vindictive pranks, inadvertent lol in horror and above all, loyalty. Anna’s unique point of view brings forward the fallout, one rarely thanks about: the collateral damage that super heroes wreak when ‘saving’ the world. One can see that the line between super hero and super villain is super blurred. You won’t be able to put this down, I know I couldn’t. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rosann

    Finally something different in SciFi. Informed by the modern penchant for statistical analysis, marketing, data mining, gig economy, temp workers, and possibly influenced by the Amazon series "The Boys", Natalie Zina Walschots gives us, at last, the story of the villains and the hench folks that support their evil plans. The superheroes are revealed to not be so heroic, the villains, not so blackhearted, the support staff that make all tales of the 'supes' tick are revealed in all their glory. T Finally something different in SciFi. Informed by the modern penchant for statistical analysis, marketing, data mining, gig economy, temp workers, and possibly influenced by the Amazon series "The Boys", Natalie Zina Walschots gives us, at last, the story of the villains and the hench folks that support their evil plans. The superheroes are revealed to not be so heroic, the villains, not so blackhearted, the support staff that make all tales of the 'supes' tick are revealed in all their glory. The characters are interesting, surprising, and completely understandable. As a reader I suspended all disbelief and went along for the wild ride. Finally, someone dares to ask (as I often do) when the superheroes do all that fighting, what happens to the cities that are razed, the civilians caught in the crossfire. Lookin at you DC and Marvel!!!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Galloway

    It's not that the themes here are new -- I could name at least a good handful of books that explore the darker sides of heroes and the underpowered in a superpowered world (The Refrigerator Monologues, Soon I Will Be Invincible, Heroine Complex, After the Golden Age, etc.) -- but this does refine some of those ideas for the current day. Plus, a lot of these kinds of stories stick to superheroes or supervillains, so it's great to get this from the henchperson's point of view. I'm personally not o It's not that the themes here are new -- I could name at least a good handful of books that explore the darker sides of heroes and the underpowered in a superpowered world (The Refrigerator Monologues, Soon I Will Be Invincible, Heroine Complex, After the Golden Age, etc.) -- but this does refine some of those ideas for the current day. Plus, a lot of these kinds of stories stick to superheroes or supervillains, so it's great to get this from the henchperson's point of view. I'm personally not one of those people who tends to enjoy a villain narrative, but I still loved Anna's story even if some of her decisions made me squirm. She may be justified in her anger and her desire to take down heroes, but you can't ever forget that feeling empathy for her doesn't make her any less a villain. Her story doesn't focus solely on her plans, however, and that's a strength -- you get to lean about the life of henchpeople and acknowledge that all these comic book type people have real people problems too. There are some excellent friendships here. Finally, as all good superhero novels must do, there are some surprising twists on the powers we know and love.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    What an entertainingly and delightfully evil read! Such an interesting and unique concept I've never seen before! If you love a good superhero read this is definitely not for you. But, for the fans of supervillains and their henchman...or woman, this is a must-read! What an entertainingly and delightfully evil read! Such an interesting and unique concept I've never seen before! If you love a good superhero read this is definitely not for you. But, for the fans of supervillains and their henchman...or woman, this is a must-read!

  14. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    A really good debut novel told from the POV of the hench of a supervillain, a data analyst hellbent on revenge when a superhero casually ruins her life. It turns out when you run the numbers, heroes are just plain bad for the world, and aren't really distinguishable from the villains, except for the PR. I loved the snarky attitude, the sharp writing, and the whole concept. My main disappointment is that I didn't connect with Anna all that much, and I'm not sure exactly why. She's not a flat char A really good debut novel told from the POV of the hench of a supervillain, a data analyst hellbent on revenge when a superhero casually ruins her life. It turns out when you run the numbers, heroes are just plain bad for the world, and aren't really distinguishable from the villains, except for the PR. I loved the snarky attitude, the sharp writing, and the whole concept. My main disappointment is that I didn't connect with Anna all that much, and I'm not sure exactly why. She's not a flat character by any means but I never became emotionally invested in her and her journey, which is an evil origin story of sorts. She's bisexual too, which makes my lack of connection to her even more baffling. (On that note actually I think a romance subplot of some kind would have had me more engaged, especially in the middle chunk. And there are plenty of options of various genders). Honestly I didn't love this book as much as I had hoped to, but it was still very good!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Natalie temps for various B-list supervillains, doing the work behind the scenes that no-one pays attention to. Right up until an assignment lands her in the field and in the frontlines of a battle between her boss and a superhero. To the superhero a glancing blow is completely minor, but to physically-ordinary Natalie, it's a life-changing injury that leaves both her impaired, both physically and financially. After getting her life back on track, mainly by letting her obsessive maths-brain tackl Natalie temps for various B-list supervillains, doing the work behind the scenes that no-one pays attention to. Right up until an assignment lands her in the field and in the frontlines of a battle between her boss and a superhero. To the superhero a glancing blow is completely minor, but to physically-ordinary Natalie, it's a life-changing injury that leaves both her impaired, both physically and financially. After getting her life back on track, mainly by letting her obsessive maths-brain tackle the problem of superheroics-based collateral damage, she lands a enviable position with an A-list supervillain and someone directly opposed to the hero that caused her injuries. But now with motive and armed with data showing just how bad superheroes are for society, the truly dangerous supervillain may actually be Natalie herself. The comparison to the Boys is an obvious one, but while that property goes for shock value with very dark themes, this one explores the real consequences to society of people with super-powers, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, what happens when talented people work for self-declared villains instead of just villainous companies. The look at the actual injuries that would be generated when normal people encounter super strength is alternately fascinating and horrifying, particularly as you think about the saturation of superheroes in popular culture at the moment. The overall narrative of a faceless minion quietly but steadily discovering her own power with the support of the people around her is excellent, and not without nuance, particularly as Natalie's relationship with her best friend changes over time. Overall, I think this is a 4.5 star book, brought down only because the real "villain" of the piece (the Draft system) really doesn't get mentioned until the last part of the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Justina Ireland

    This book is exactly what I wanted The Boys to be but was not: thoughtful, addictive, and most importantly upheld by a strong core of storytelling that was based around ideas of justice and vengeance AND included a diverse cast of not only people of color, but an array of genders and sexual identities (the Auditor might be my new favorite Disaster Bi). Seriously great, it also leaves room for a sequel, which I would eagerly snatch up.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Frankie

    What a ride! I'm actually disappointed this is a standalone because I NEED MORE. Absolutely hilarious; this had me giggling out loud. Unputdownable, compelling, and smart. Plus, I've grown attached to these characters and relationships and hate to let go. I loved everything about this, from our henchwoman turned supervillainness protagonist Anna, to the wider cast of characters (her friendships are great, as is her surprisingly tender relationship with her scary villain boss Leviathan), to the p What a ride! I'm actually disappointed this is a standalone because I NEED MORE. Absolutely hilarious; this had me giggling out loud. Unputdownable, compelling, and smart. Plus, I've grown attached to these characters and relationships and hate to let go. I loved everything about this, from our henchwoman turned supervillainness protagonist Anna, to the wider cast of characters (her friendships are great, as is her surprisingly tender relationship with her scary villain boss Leviathan), to the plot and worldbuilding. This novel is also so casually queer (Anna is bi), which is wonderful! Shockingly relevant too in 2020. Reading this in between breaks while working from home was an experience lol. I mean... Anna's powers are data analysis. She's an evil project manager. I'm crying. My only real complaint is that the chapters are absurdly long. I was about a hundred pages in and only on CHAPTER TWO. But thankfully there are frequent scene breaks so it isn't too overwhelming. You don't have to like superheroes to enjoy this book. In fact, it fondly pokes fun at the whole genre and makes you root for the villains and poor guys stuck in between. ;) Perfection.

  18. 5 out of 5

    April Sarah

    *ARC received from Netgalley in return for an honest review* Video Review: https://youtu.be/rx3_mqEFzn4 This book is a strange mixture of data, superheroes, and walking that fine line of good versus evil. And I liked it. This is the story of Anna, who is a temp henchman. She works through an agency and is farmed out to different villains. She is in data entry, so she does a lot of cataloging and moving and analyzing data. One day she starts a job under a villain called the Electric Eel and she is *ARC received from Netgalley in return for an honest review* Video Review: https://youtu.be/rx3_mqEFzn4 This book is a strange mixture of data, superheroes, and walking that fine line of good versus evil. And I liked it. This is the story of Anna, who is a temp henchman. She works through an agency and is farmed out to different villains. She is in data entry, so she does a lot of cataloging and moving and analyzing data. One day she starts a job under a villain called the Electric Eel and she is put into a position that has her face to face with a superhero called SuperCollider. During the face-off, she is badly injured and it leaves her crippled. Because of this, she starts down this path of analyzing superheroes and the damage they cause to both lives and property. This whole book takes a look at what is good and what is evil. How that line is very wobbly. It reminds me a little bit of 'Vicious' by V.E. Schwab. It has some of that same undercurrent of things that it's looking at. Especially in superhero mythology. We always have this grand picture of superheroes being the one saving the day and we have these big superhero movies, but at the same time, we're seeing all this damage and chaos that is happening while these superheroes are supposedly fighting for the betterment of the people around them. What we never see is what happens to the bystanders who are innocently harmed, the cost that the city incurs because of the damages done, and how that effects the origin story of villains themselves. It's kind of weird how analytical this story is but at the same time extremely witty. I come from a place of very much loving spreadsheets. So as Anna is falling down this path of analyzing all of these numbers and all of these stats and looking into these large chunks of data, I found myself very much in the mindset of Anna, loving every second of it. She is very good at making all of these very grandiose connections, so I liked her as a character for that. But at the same time you have this very analytical side, you have this look into relationships and how your slow rise villainy, or heroism, can leave a lot of your friends and family behind. And it also looks at the relationships between superheroes and villains. This book was very fast-paced. Once I started getting into the story, I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what happened next. A lot of things happen very quickly and very violently as per the superhero genre. This isn't a book for anyone who isn't a huge fan of superheroes because it still has that superhero campy feel to it even though it goes lean more towards this darker end of the spectrum. Especially since we're mostly embedded in villainy and the henchmen that are surrounding that infrastructure. So you have to go into this book expecting that standard superhero world. You're not going to get a huge flux of backstory of why people have powers, why these really over-exaggerated things happen all throughout the city that are connected to kidnappings, and murders, and hits, and politics, and the whole big shebang. Because a lot of that is already rooted in the superhero mythology that most of us have come to know and love. It doesn't establish anything new there. It just takes all of that hero vibe, that campy vibe, that over-exaggeration, the big bangs, the very adventurous situations, and it looks at it from a side of numbers and aftermath. But with this touch of wit that keeps everything very light. So if you like superheroes, If you like that contrast of looking at it from the other side of - maybe the heroes aren't all that they're cracked up to be, you will probably really like this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    When it comes to superheroes and their sidekicks, I am usually not all that interested since these stories tend to follow the same formulaic script. Hench brilliantly flips the script to give us a fresh new take on hench people, the expendable people who work for villains. Anna Tromedlov alongside her friend June work crappy temp assignments for minor villains that no one really cares about. Anna can’t complain though because she needs to make money to be able to eat. Anna finally gets her break When it comes to superheroes and their sidekicks, I am usually not all that interested since these stories tend to follow the same formulaic script. Hench brilliantly flips the script to give us a fresh new take on hench people, the expendable people who work for villains. Anna Tromedlov alongside her friend June work crappy temp assignments for minor villains that no one really cares about. Anna can’t complain though because she needs to make money to be able to eat. Anna finally gets her break working for a villain, but the gig goes south leaving her injured. To make matters worse, Anna gets laid off. While unemployed, Anna starts analyzing and compiling data that shows that superheroes are actually terrible for the world. Supervillain Leviathan takes notice of Anna’s research, and hires her to use her expertise to expose and take down superheroes. Anna is definitely one of the most fascinating characters that I’ve read. The author does an incredible job of developing her character from this meek underling to this person of great influence and power. That’s not to say that Anna becomes any less awkward because she still fumbles when it comes to being attracted to others. Anna is the perfect amount of snark and cynicism in a world that is pretty dark and depressing. One of the other facets of this book that I really enjoyed was the increase in levels as you move through the plot. We start at the very bottom with the henches and the meat who are used and abused by the supervillains. We slowly progress our way through the chain of command as we see the different power dynamics at play. The pacing for the plot is steady for the most part. There is a bit in the middle that slowed down a bit as Anna’s character undergoes a transition, but it did not make me any less interested in the story. I’m really hoping that there is a book two because after that ending, I want to see what else is in store for Anna. Thank you to Harper Audio for providing an advanced listening copy through Edelweiss. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dom

    I need a little break from YA, so I decided to pick up HENCH by Natalie Zina Walschots and ended up binge reading the whole thing because I was hooked from the get go—that’s how much I enjoyed it. Anna, the protagonist of the novel, makes a living ‘henching’ for various villains on a part time basis. Even criminals need office help, and in this economy, there’s no such thing as turning down work. When Anna is seriously, permanently injured by an encounter with a superhero gone wrong, she takes it I need a little break from YA, so I decided to pick up HENCH by Natalie Zina Walschots and ended up binge reading the whole thing because I was hooked from the get go—that’s how much I enjoyed it. Anna, the protagonist of the novel, makes a living ‘henching’ for various villains on a part time basis. Even criminals need office help, and in this economy, there’s no such thing as turning down work. When Anna is seriously, permanently injured by an encounter with a superhero gone wrong, she takes it upon herself during her convalescence to find data that backs up her newly formed hypothesis: that so-called ‘superheroes’ destroy far more lives than they save. This novel starts out at a breakneck pace and doesn’t let up for the duration. My Scorpio heart loves a good revenge story, and I extra loved that the protagonist Anna is both queer and disabled. There are multiple LGBTQ+ side characters as well who are allowed to be casually queer without comment. A nice bonus is that if you’re looking for a book that doesn’t heavily revolve around romance/romantic subplot, HENCH fits the bill. My only minor critique was the ending left a lot of questions I’d really like answered. I would love more books set in this world, but so far I haven’t seen any plans for such. The abrupt ending knocked it down to 4.5/5 stars for me. I’ve seen this comped to The Boys, but since I haven’t seen it, HENCH gives me My Hero Academia vibes—if BNHA were super queer, WAY more violent, and the cast was aged up 20 years. If you want an action-packed deconstruction of comic book superhero tropes and you’re okay with graphic violence (especially body horror), pick this one up. You’re probably in for a treat.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Super witty, super charged, and super villainous! Anna is a normal temp hench, working for ho-hum villains to make rent. But when she finally steps out from behind her desk, she's severely injured by a superhero. The pain and unpaid time off leads her to start running the numbers on the damage to humans and material objects caused by the so-called good guys. Burning with revenge and hatred, Anna soon captures the attention of the online world and a true villain- Leviathan. Soon Anna is using her Super witty, super charged, and super villainous! Anna is a normal temp hench, working for ho-hum villains to make rent. But when she finally steps out from behind her desk, she's severely injured by a superhero. The pain and unpaid time off leads her to start running the numbers on the damage to humans and material objects caused by the so-called good guys. Burning with revenge and hatred, Anna soon captures the attention of the online world and a true villain- Leviathan. Soon Anna is using her gifts with numbers and burning passion to ruin superheroes to use, but when the chance to get more than even against the hero who hurt her appears, it might just be her own fall she's engineering. Absolutely recommending this book, especially on audio. It's narrated by Alex McKenna, who brings the large cast to life. McKenna captures Anna's snark, Leviathan's otherness, and Supercollider's pompous entitlement perfectly! And for the readers who prefer short chapters... this is not that book, so audio will definitively work better.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bexa

    This was phenomenal! Anna Tomedlov, later known as The Auditor, is an out of work hench. Her last job ended and she's been struggling to get into a new role with a villain who could use her data skills. After a quick application at the temp agency, she gets assigned to the Electric Eel. The job is boring, it's a lot of recalculating information on known identities of superheroes, but hey, it pays. Then she gets told that she is expected to be at his press conference, mostly to correct the ratios This was phenomenal! Anna Tomedlov, later known as The Auditor, is an out of work hench. Her last job ended and she's been struggling to get into a new role with a villain who could use her data skills. After a quick application at the temp agency, she gets assigned to the Electric Eel. The job is boring, it's a lot of recalculating information on known identities of superheroes, but hey, it pays. Then she gets told that she is expected to be at his press conference, mostly to correct the ratios of Meats (muscle) and make it look like Electric Eel is an equal opportunity villain. What starts with the kidnapping of the mayor's son, ends with her leg completely destroyed as the superhero, Supercollider, throws her across the room in his attempt to clean up the rest of the Meat as Electric Eel escapes. After multiple surgeries, hospital time, and an unknown amount of recovery and physical therapy needed, Anna has nothing but time. While she spends a lot of it wallowing in self pity staring at her depleted bank account, she also begins to realize that she's not the only one that was injured/destroyed that day. With the damage that Supercollider did, it ends up being around 140 years of human life destroyed, and hundreds of thousands dollars of property damage. Anna gets pissed. She digs into the superheroes' pasts and starts tallying up all of the time in human life lost and all the money in property damage done, and starts a blog. She doesn't think that it will get a lot of traction, she's not really doing it for anyone but herself. Except people start to notice. Someone else runs the numbers and realizes that she's being conservative with her numbers. Maybe these superheroes aren't worth it, since it doesn't seem like they are caring for the lives of those they're supposed to be saving. This brings her to the attention of The Leviathan. The background of The Leviathan isn't really well discussed. He was once under the mentorship of a superhero, who was also doubting the ways things were going. His mentor dies, and The Leviathan has taken it upon himself to bring down superheroes. This is where Anna comes in. After being whisked away to his compound and healed up, she is given her own team to start figuring out how to take these superheroes down. Filled with raw human emotions, the fight between good and evil, and such a satisfying ending, this book takes the hero story and turns it on its head. I loved everything. Copy provided by NetGalley.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    DNF at 30% - apparently I'm not in the mood for it. Perhaps again later. DNF at 30% - apparently I'm not in the mood for it. Perhaps again later.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kaila

    3.5/5 stars Although I really enjoyed this book for the most part, by the end I was left with a sinking and disappointed feeling despite liking the story. It's weird because on the surface, it was a very striking, unique and fun read that I very much enjoyed. It completely flipped the superhero genre on its head, focusing the story on the perspective of a temp hench for villains. This idea is honestly amazing. Reading about superpowered people from the perspective of a data collector/analysist ma 3.5/5 stars Although I really enjoyed this book for the most part, by the end I was left with a sinking and disappointed feeling despite liking the story. It's weird because on the surface, it was a very striking, unique and fun read that I very much enjoyed. It completely flipped the superhero genre on its head, focusing the story on the perspective of a temp hench for villains. This idea is honestly amazing. Reading about superpowered people from the perspective of a data collector/analysist makes me giggle a bit inside, a brilliant idea really. Its so interesting, reading about the going-ons and people behind the greatest villains and heroes. I also thought it was a great idea to look at the impact of superheroes on the infrastructure and people around them in terms of collateral damage. There were so many exciting moments in this book. Villainy that made me smile evilly and so much good scheming and trickery. This is what really made this book so unbelievably enjoyable to read. Despite all this praise, I do some have gripes about the story, especially the ending. This book went on so many different paths, each growing the role of Anne from simply a data collector to a genius of villainy. While I didn't mind this, I feel like it was continuing to dance between each roles, sometimes placing Anne as simply a hench and at other times making the whole story revolve around her. It made the story feel quite messy as if the author couldn't decide how the heroine would be and what path the story would actually take. Also, I really didn't enjoy the end of the novel. There were so many questions left unanswered (not in a mysterious way but more in an annoying sort of way), actions that weren't just unexplained but also completely uncharacteristic of the characters, and just a generally anti-climactic conclusion. I also really didn't enjoy how Anne's character developed. There is a strong difference between a main character and an author writing a book that completely revolves around the character. It just didn't feel realistic in that Anne was obviously the best at scheming, was adored and given great interest by all of the characters and just overall very self-centered. It's just not how the world works, people aren't suddenly the best at everything and loved by everyone around them. I don't know if this makes sense, but nonetheless it is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lady H

    I picked this up specifically because I was looking for some supervillain/henchwoman vibes, and this book gave it to me, albeit in very tiny increments. We follow Anna in Comic Book Universe, where superheroes wreak havoc on ordinary people's lives. After an encounter with a superhero shatters Anna's femur, she begins investigating the numerical cost associated with superheroes: she's big on data and spreadsheets. It's basically her superpower. Her work catches the attention of Leviathan, a supe I picked this up specifically because I was looking for some supervillain/henchwoman vibes, and this book gave it to me, albeit in very tiny increments. We follow Anna in Comic Book Universe, where superheroes wreak havoc on ordinary people's lives. After an encounter with a superhero shatters Anna's femur, she begins investigating the numerical cost associated with superheroes: she's big on data and spreadsheets. It's basically her superpower. Her work catches the attention of Leviathan, a supervillain, who hires her to work for him, and she eventually works her way up to become his most trusted lieutenant by sabotaging heroes. As we march along this sometimes slow-burn plot, there's some light discussions of heroism vs villainy and a lot of dark humor and some intense visceral violence (especially at the very end, hoo boy). I enjoy the superhero genre pretty casually, but I really love interrogations of the stark realities of the existence of superheroes. It's like, remember that Superman movie, where Superman utterly annihilated Manhattan as he was fighting? Anna pulls the data on all of that. I really enjoyed Anna as a character; she's resilient, resentful, and brilliant. Loved her relationship with Leviathan, though I wish we'd gotten a bit more of it, particularly at the end (though it seems we're setting up for a sequel?). Also loved the casual diversity in this book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Wow this book was phenomenal! It works as a stand alone but could easily have a sequel. I really really REALLY hope Natalie Zina Walschots does write a sequel to it. I'm recommending this book to all my book club members and anyone who loves heroes, or especially loves villians. Wow this book was phenomenal! It works as a stand alone but could easily have a sequel. I really really REALLY hope Natalie Zina Walschots does write a sequel to it. I'm recommending this book to all my book club members and anyone who loves heroes, or especially loves villians.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This book started off with a bang for me and I really enjoyed the first quarter or so. But unfortunately I became a bit bored after that and I never regained my interest. I did make it to the end just so I could see how it ended, but it would have been enough for me to have read a recap instead. Still, I give it 3 stars for really pulling me in at the beginning, and there are a lot of great ideas to be explored here.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    For the moment, I’m shifting this to the abandoned books shelf. Perhaps I’ll have a change of heart. I was so excited about the concept within this book and while I am grateful for the ARC, I wonder if I might have an easier time with the audiobook when it becomes available. I’m struggling a lot with the pacing, as very little has happened and I’m at page 111. Plus, the chapters are insanely long. For example, chapter one was 68 pages. So this isn’t something I can take a short break with during For the moment, I’m shifting this to the abandoned books shelf. Perhaps I’ll have a change of heart. I was so excited about the concept within this book and while I am grateful for the ARC, I wonder if I might have an easier time with the audiobook when it becomes available. I’m struggling a lot with the pacing, as very little has happened and I’m at page 111. Plus, the chapters are insanely long. For example, chapter one was 68 pages. So this isn’t something I can take a short break with during the day to get a chapter or two in and the idea of reading such long chapters at night when I’m exhausted is daunting. I’m not finding the story to be mentally stimulating at the moment. At the same time, I like the humor of it and I think the premise is fantastic. I also like the writing style. The story does seem promising to me but the idea of getting back to it right now is filling me with dread. I’m generally settled on DNFs but I think this one is possibly a temporary solution that will allow me to move onto other things that are both enticing and better paced. I do hope that I’ll find the mindset to come back to this eventually.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Ladd

    What if the bad guys are really the good guys? That is the driving theme of this debut novel by Natalie Zina Walschots, aka poet, community manager, and game designer. superheroes and supervillains are just part of the everyday landscape therefore they need employees to support their work. Enter the Hench, who is basically a temp for hire, to do whatever jobs their bosses need done, usually administrative tasks like crunching numbers or window dressing for press conferences. The Meat are the mus What if the bad guys are really the good guys? That is the driving theme of this debut novel by Natalie Zina Walschots, aka poet, community manager, and game designer. superheroes and supervillains are just part of the everyday landscape therefore they need employees to support their work. Enter the Hench, who is basically a temp for hire, to do whatever jobs their bosses need done, usually administrative tasks like crunching numbers or window dressing for press conferences. The Meat are the muscle, the folks, like the Hench, that didn't cut it when tested for superhero strength and agility, but still want a piece of the action. Anna our Hench, is a number cruncher. And after a particularly rude encounter with a superhero, she starts looking into how much damage is incurred by said heroes as they attempt to save someone. With plot twists aplenty, strong women and a misogynist superhero that does his best to keep them down, Hench will grab your attention and keep you up well past your bedtime. This is an excellent choice for teens and adults who seek a different perspective on the superhero genre. Anna is the ultimate modern anti-heroine, and Hench is a must-read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    What a great twist on the superhero trope—thinking about the damage their “heroic” acts cause to both people and property. And who are all the villains’ henchmen/women? Why, there’s a temp agency for henches, of course. An imaginative and smart fantasy for our times. Highly recommended.

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