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Hench: A Novel
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Published:
HarperCollins 2020
Status:
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Description

"This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell." — Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.

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.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/22/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062978592
ASIN:
B0831QRN8T
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Natalie Zina Walschots. (2020). Hench: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Natalie Zina Walschots. 2020. Hench: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Natalie Zina Walschots, Hench: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Natalie Zina Walschots. Hench: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2020.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Sep 18, 2020 14:38:22
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Natalie Zina Walschots is a freelance writer, community manager and bailed academic based in Toronto. She writes everything from reviews of science fiction novels and interviews with heavy metal musicians to to in-depth feminist games criticism and pieces of long-form journalism. She is the author of two books of poetry. In her free time she has been exploring the poetic potential of the notes engine in the video game Bloodborne, writing a collection of polyamorous fairytales, developing interactive narrative classes and composing short text-based body horror games. She also plays a lot of D&D, participates in a lot of Nordic LARPs, watches a lot of horror movies and reads a lot of speculative fiction.
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Hench
fullDescription

"This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell." — Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.

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.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times
      • content:

        "Witty and inventive . . . the pleasure of the novel is the slow rollout of the rules. Creating a universe involves inventing lots of little problems, and the solutions here don't disappoint." — New York Times

        "Hench is an engrossing take on the superheroic. It's smart and imaginative; an exemplary rise-of-darkness story, one I won't soon forget...I honestly can't wait to see what Natalie Zina Walschots does next with the genre." — NPR Books

        "Walschots playfully pokes at both office politics and comic book absurdity while offering gripping action and gut-wrenching body horror. The inventive premise, accessible heroine, and biting wit will have readers eager for more from this talented author." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

        "A fiendishly clever novel that fizzes with moxie and malice." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

        "Walschots delivers a book that's dark and honest, sharp and raw, full of visceral tenderness and breathtaking insight. Hench belongs in a lineage of superhero prose fiction that includes Robert Mayer's Superfolks (which it surpasses) and Samit Basu's Turbulence (which it equals), and is one of the best books I read in 2020. I rarely hope for sequels to books that function beautifully as standalones, but am actively longing for one here."

        Amal El-Mohtar, Hugo Award–winning writer and coauthor of This Is How You Lose the Time War

        "This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell. It's a beautiful deconstruction of the superhero genre, and I'm only a little annoyed that I didn't think of it first." — Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

        "Get ready to root for the bad guys." — Jennifer Estep, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Crown of Shards series

        "This Anti(super)hero tale is jam-packed with action and fueled by Anna's breathless, dizzying, exhilarating rage. Anna faces off with the supernatural, but she feels so very real as she rockets along on her furious and furiously-paced trajectory. Hench is a ride—I loved it." — Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Never Have I Ever

        "Sharp, unexpected, and hilarious—HENCH takes the classic superhero story and cleverly turns it on its head. Get ready for a delightfully twisted adventure that will make you want to root for the bad guys." Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

        "Smart, witty, and at times bloody, this book will please comic book fans who wish to take a jab at the superhero tropes, as well as readers who enjoy dark humor with a bit of satire tossed into the mix." — Library Journal (starred review)

        " In this refreshing, subversive, and darkly humorous debut novel, poet and journalist Walscholts slowly reveals the nuances of her superpower-filled world, keeping readers guessing. Hench reads like a comic without the illustrations and is packed with subplots and rapid-fire wit. With a diverse and inclusive cast of characters, Walschots' original tale performs a brilliant and exciting variation on the superhero trope and is not to be missed." Booklist (starred review)

        "A clever, witty, vigorous, and well-crafted adventure [...] by turns hilarious and tragic, alternately rudely juvenile or sophisticated." — Locus Magazine

        "Witty and wry, the scenes flash by, evocative of comic books, with tight...

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from May 11, 2020
        Walschots (Doom) gleefully blurs the line between heroes and villains in this hilarious peek behind the scenes of supervillains’ lairs. Apathetic millennial Anna Tromedlov works through a temp agency for “henching gigs,” doing data entry for minor supervillains. But then a tumultuous gig with the Electric Eel leaves Anna hospitalized, fired from the temp agency, and newly furious about the state of the superpowered world, which is dominated by reckless superheroes who don’t care how many people they hurt in the name of saving the day. Luckily for her, the notorious, A-list villain Leviathan hires her as a hench. Her new position marks her first experience with supervillain field work, leading to a mind-altering run-in with the world’s most powerful superhero and a deteriorating personal life. Though the closest thing Anna has to a superpower is her ability to analyze data, that might be just what it takes to put an end to the hypocrisy of superheroes once and for all. Walschots playfully pokes at both office politics and comic book absurdity while offering gripping action and gut-wrenching body horror. The inventive premise, accessible heroine, and biting wit will have readers eager for more from this talented author. Agent: Ron Eckel, Cooke McDermid Literary.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 15, 2020
        An aggrieved Millennial henchwoman sets out to prove that not all heroes are super in poet Walschots' fiction debut. Shortly after freelance "hench" Anna Tromedlov lands a full-time job entering data for Electrophorous Industries, her boss--a minor supervillain known as the Electric Eel--offers her some fieldwork. Anna is nervous but excited--until she discovers that she's simply female set dressing for the Eel's latest press conference. When her employer publicly announces that he's holding the mayor's son for ransom, Supercollider--an A-list superhero--crashes through the window, saving the boy but killing multiple henches and shattering Anna's femur in the process. Upon learning that her surgically repaired leg will take six months to heal, a laid-off Anna moves in with her best friend, fellow hench June. While convalescing, Anna starts calculating approximately how many dollars and life-years the Supercollider and other so-called "heroes" have cost not just her, but the world at large. She posts her findings online, earning public scorn--and the attention of Leviathan, the world's most infamous supervillain and Supercollider's archnemesis. Evocative prose, acerbic wit, and patient yet propulsive pacing complement Walschots' sophisticated plot, which juxtaposes philosophic profundity with brutal, meticulously choreographed action. Boldly drawn characters of sundry ethnicities, sexualities, and gender identities engage in realistically complex relationships that evolve (and devolve) over the course of the tale, illustrating the relativity of good and evil, the corrupting influence of power, and the necrotic nature of revenge. A fiendishly clever novel that fizzes with moxie and malice.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from August 1, 2020
        Hold on to your capes, there's a new superpower in town in the form of, um, data analysis? In Anna's world, Superheroes and Supervillains are very real, so naturally they have their trusty sidekicks and evil henchmen. In reality, henching isn't as evil or dangerous as you might think?most henches are just regular folks trying to get by. Anna does temp work for villains, but she's just a data nerd. If she had a superpower, it would be making spreadsheets. But her boring, static life gets rocked when she has a quite literal run-in with the national icon of heroes: Supercollider. Angered by being cast aside as collateral damage, Anna decides to dig into the data. How much death and destruction do heroes cause as a consequence of their heroism ? What she finds shocks her and catapults her into the heart of the battle between heroes and villains. In this refreshing, subversive, and darkly humorous debut novel, poet and journalist Walscholts slowly reveals the nuances of her superpower-filled world, keeping readers guessing. Hench reads like a comic without the illustrations and is packed with subplots and rapid-fire wit. With a diverse and inclusive cast of characters, Walschots' original tale performs a brilliant and exciting variation on the superhero trope and is not to be missed.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from September 1, 2020

        Walschots's (Doom: Love Poems for Supervillians) adventure-filled new novel takes the lead character of a villain's henchwoman, with all the potential for evil, and creates a reluctant and sympathetic antihero. Anna does boring temp desk jobs for villains and is questioning her career choices until one job places her in the middle of a superhero vs. villain fight. She ends up being severely injured by the superhero, which turns her life around, but not quite the way the hero imagined. She realizes how much damage superhero fights cause to the people who become unintentional victims. With her data analysis acumen, she is able to catch the eye of villainous mastermind Leviathan, who hires her to oust his opponents. A superb marketing strategy causes people to begin questioning whether the good and evil personas are as clear-cut as they seem. There is a price to all this so-called justice and Anna means to reveal both its ugliness and its potential. VERDICT Smart, witty, and at times bloody, this book will please comic book fans who wish to take a jab at the superhero tropes, as well as readers who enjoy dark humor with a bit of satire tossed into the mix. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/20.]--Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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"This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell." — Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.

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...

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