Thank you thank you thank you to Hodder for gifting me an eARC in exchange for an honest review! I’m SO glad I got the chance to read and review this book and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get it out of my head, ever…
Only A Monster follows Joan, a teenage girl sent to stay with her mother’s side of the family, who finds out that there’s more to them – and herself – than she ever realised. Namely, that they’re monsters, and that means she’s half-monster too.
If that wasn’t enough, Joan then discovers that the cute boy that she’s been volunteering with, crushing on and generally obsessing over, isn’t just a human either: Nick’s a monster hunter, fabled as the only one who can unravel the hidden world that they’ve created.
When Joan suffers an unimaginable tragedy at the hands of the boy she’s in love with, she’s forced to team up with her worst enemy in an attempt to repair the damage that Nick’s done, before it’s too late.
I’ve read so many YA books that have flipped tropes and age-old stories on their heads, but I’ve never read anything that does it quite like Only A Monster. It’s a typical hero story except, for the first time ever, I had to root against the hero, and the moral-greyness of it all was completely flawless. I found myself confused by how I felt about all of the characters at so many different points that, while I knew who I was supposed to be supporting, I was never entirely sure if that’s actually how I felt. It made for a very confusing but incredibly unique reading experience, with one of the best uses of the anti-hero trope I’ve ever read.
It definitely took time for me to connect with the three main characters – Joan, Nick, or Joan’s now-ally, Aaron – and I was worried initially that I wasn’t entirely rooting for any of them. I didn’t particularly ship Joan with anyone at the start and I couldn’t figure out if I trusted her family or not (what with them being monsters, and all) so I was definitely concerned for the first few chapters that I wasn’t going to get into this story at all. But, somewhere in the middle, I became completely hooked, and developed a mild obsession with all three characters that took me completely by surprise. Joan developed into a strong-willed fierce heroine (villain??), Aaron became the newest addition to a long line of arrogant, fictional posh boys that are super easy to fall in love with, and Nick got more and more complex until I genuinely couldn’t figure out how I felt about his mission.
The story was fairly fast-paced, but there was so much world-building included too that the hidden monster world within our own was completely believable and fully developed. It was so easy towards the end to get completely sucked into Joan’s world that I found myself anxiously turning the pages, genuinely concerned about what would happen next, until the very last chapter. Even during the times when the story was slightly slower, I was already so invested that I couldn’t stop reading for even a second.
I had high hopes for this book, and yet it took me completely by surprise how wholly I got sucked into it. I have so many questions that I want answering in the next book and, honestly, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this one out of my head until then.