March 27, 2021 1:29 PM - by Walschots, Natalie Zina - Subscribe

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.

NPR Book Conceirge
posted by DowBits (10 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I liked this book a lot, particularly the sort of urban gig-culture feel to it, and the protagonist is a lot of fun to hang with. I thought it upended the GirlBoss trope nicely; it kind of had that Incredible feel to it, but from the opposite vantage point. I hope there's a sequel in the works. Also, yay Toronto based writers.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:28 PM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved the beginning of this book, but I guess I really, *really* wanted it to be about a woman and her justifiably aggrieved blog about superhero casualties, because once it moved on from that and became more about her journey to supervillainhood I became much less interested.
posted by kyrademon at 9:27 AM on March 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was with it farther into her journey into supervilllainhood but agree that the end of it didn't hold me as well the more it got into Leviathan, and especially the climactic rescue which just went on and on being gross for what felt like a very long time. The workplace dynamics once she's with Leviathan's organization was still interesting, even as it pulled her away from her blog. I want to see a lot more of the flirtation with the getaway driver, or even the story of how she wound up driving getaway gigs for supervillains.

In this interview she does say she is working on a sequel.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:17 AM on March 29, 2021

I was with it through the very end, because I liked the way it increasingly addressed the play of gender and power, especially when Quantum Entanglement shows up. Anna is just built for this stuff, both before and after her enhancement; her potential was always there, and I enjoyed watching her let it out, even as a villainess. "Dismantle the patriarchy" takes on new meaning--I was grossed out, it was too much for me, Supercollider's fate--but it was also fitting for him to be made small. I was a little disappointed at The Auditor's crush at the end, making herself a puppy dog while at the height of her powers, but appreciated the way her professional success complicated her personal life. I mean, what else would Leviathan's ego let him do? The cost of her excellence is what happens when her boss sees the extent of her skills, aughhhh. In some ways, I hope there's not a sequel, but I would love to see Hench get picked up as a limited series.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:51 PM on January 25, 2023

....And I've just now realized that I can see Hench as an animated show, very much like The Tick, but waaaaay darker.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:14 PM on January 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

I really liked this pretty much from the start; once I realized that it might as well have been titled All Capes Are Bastards, I liked it even more.
posted by Etrigan at 9:41 AM on February 27, 2023 [3 favorites]

All Capes Are Bastards

I cackled. This is the tagline for the TV adaptation!
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:44 PM on February 27, 2023

The thing about "The Tick, but darker" is that if you elide all of the gruesome injury details, turn Accelerator's death into "just" a career-ending injury, and play up the whole "folded Supercollider" part for laughs, this story wouldn't really be that dark.
posted by Etrigan at 9:48 AM on February 28, 2023

The prose here is... serviceable at best, but the gender and power dynamics kept me reading.

I admit I pegged Keller wrong to start. I was expecting more office backbiting in Leviathan's crew. I think a book that focused on hench-hench dynamics, rather than the Leviathan-Entropy-Supercollider-Quantum business, might have been a somewhat better book?

But I do like the Anna-Quantum teamup a lot. "You don't have to carry his ass" (my paraphrase) is some powerful stuff.
posted by humbug at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2023

The cost of her excellence is what happens when her boss sees the extent of her skills, aughhhh.

Exactly what happened to Quantum Entanglement, and in both cases it can't be anything except unrequited.

I also found the end too gruesome, but loved the book anyway. One minor disappointment was that on the first page we learn her last name is Tromedlov and her alias is The Palindrome, but it doesn't really go anywhere except that a bunch of people mispronounce her name. I mean I guess there isn't much you can do with such a silly joke but I was hoping for something.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:10 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

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