Harper Teen, The Booked Shelf Reviews

Book Review: Only A Monster by Vanessa Len

Only A Monster (2022) by Vanessa Len is the first in a YA Urban Fantasy trilogy that delivers a deeply imaginative world set in London alongside a plot that is teeming with mystery, intrigue and leaves the reader compelled to understand more. In addition to establishing a detailed foundation for an elite monster society that appears to play by its own set of rules as it exists alongside our own, the characters, especially main heroine Joan, allows the reader to explore deeper layers about what makes a hero vs. a monster.

The prologue sets the stage for Len’s unique take on traditional “monsters” as Joan Chang-Hunt’s grandmother states: “Real monsters look like me and you…” (2). Spending the summer with her mother’s rather eccentric family in London, Joan enjoys her job at Holland House, a 17th century estate turned museum, and everything seems to be going well. She’s planned a date with her co-worker Nick Ward, but out of nowhere she unleashes a monstrous family power that thrusts her into an unexpected alliance with a monster boy from a rival family. So together as they work to undo a tragedy, Joan and Aaron Oliver must also do their best to steer clear of Nick, legendary Monster slayer.

Len expertly ties in Joan’s journey to understanding the Monster world as a half-human and half-monster herself with her biracial Chinese-English identity. Through this lens, Joan feels almost at a threshold, but as she unravels more Monster secrets not only of the world but of her family, she sees how all these pieces fit together.

Joan is unfamiliar with the rules of Monsters yet determined to figure out how it all works in order to help her family. The worldbuilding is gradual and delivers a collection of details from the differing Monster families and their own unique powers to the inventive fundamentals of time travel, an enigmatic Monster Court, chops that serve as unique family signatures and London locales that offer unique opportunities to be creative with the history or timeline constructed in the plot.

Locales such as Holland House, Kensington Gardens, Buckingham Palace and Whitehall Palace to name a few not only highlights the concept of history, but also familiarizes the reader to the connections Monster culture has to the access of these places within the city.

The exploration of hero versus monster is organically woven within the plot, making for interesting questions to form as the reader is introduced to characters (such as Nick) who are portrayed to be the hero, yet you see how those lines blur between good and evil. Furthermore, the rivalries of the differing families and rulers of the Monster world further make you question these traditional archetypes (especially when it comes the lore and stories that are told about heroes & monsters).

As the plot unfolds, Len builds layers to her main characters such as Joan, Nick and Aaron, especially when their personalities conflict with their traditional Monster or Hero status. Readers will be left wanting to discover more about these characters once those last few chapters are reached.

With one week from the release of Only A Monster from Vanessa Len, keep an eye out for this page-turning debut that offers an inventive take on time travel and monsters, a hidden magical world full of secrets, plus a cast of characters that further explore those blurred lines between hero and monster, leaving readers eager to know more as the trilogy continues.

Appreciate you taking the time to read my in-depth review on this debut releasing February 22, 2022! Be sure to check out Len’s novel if you enjoy urban fantasy, stories of monsters & heroes or appreciate heroines embracing their own monstrousness – 24hr.YABookBlog, editor of The Booked Shelf

Adaptation News, Disney Hyperion

Percy Jackson Is Getting Adapted For Disney+

As of May 14, Rick Riordan announced that his beloved Percy Jackson series would be headed to Disney+ as a live-action series, in an announcement video.

Posted via twitter Riordan said that “…after a lot of work and a lot of support from you guys, Percy Jackson is coming to Disney Plus…”

Alongside the video with his wife Becky, he then elaborated on the early stages of the project through a subsequent tweet.

“We can’t say much more at this stage but we are very excited about the idea of a live-action series of the highest quality, following the storyline of the original Percy Jackson five-book series, starting with The Lightning Thief in season one. Rest assured that Becky & I will be involved in person in every aspect of the show…”

Rick Riordan via Twitter

The follow day, Riordan posted a tweet of a pilot outline stating “Hope you guys have a great weekend! I know I will. I have some work to do. #PercyJacksonDisneyPlus”

No further details about the series were announced.

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe.

She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea.

Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is out now!

Image credit: Aurthurian on Tumblr / Denalireads via Instagram