Shelf Control #308: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

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Title: Hench
Author: Natalie Zina Walschots
Published: 2020
Length: 401 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

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. 

How and when I got it:

I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway in 2020.

Why I want to read it:

Because I won it and I feel like I should?

One the one hand, I like the sound of the some of the more sci-fi/dystopian elements. On the other hand, I’m not always wowed by books that focus on the workworld and office frustrations. Still, the mix of both makes this book sound like it could be fun, and at the very least, pretty different from most of what I’ve been reading lately.

I’m seeing everything from 2 to 5 star ratings on Goodreads, with an average of 4.06. I’m a little concerned that some of the reader friends I tend to be most aligned with in terms of reading tastes have given this book low ratings or even DNFd it.

So, I’m seriously on the fence about this one. I do feel a certain amount of obligation when it comes to reading books I’ve won… but I suppose it’s not that important anymore, given that a year and a half have now gone by.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

PS – And if you’ve read Hench, please offer some opinions as well!


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  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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10 thoughts on “Shelf Control #308: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

  1. Pingback: Shelf Control #173: The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart – Literary Potpourri

  2. I’d definitely read it! It’s sounds so dystopian and yet very much relevant. I hope you give it a read! Here’s the LINK to my post in case you want to check it out later. Wishing you a great reading week.🥰

  3. I loved this book! I read it last year and was blown away by how different it was to anything I’ve really ever read. The premise felt fresh and new because it focuses on the villains and pretty much shows the aftereffects of what happens after the heroes show up to save the day… but leave the city a wreck. I don’t know if I described it right but the main character is a villain and when she gets hurt because of the heroes and she realizes that she’s not alone… and now she wants to expose the heroes as not actually being heroes. If you do decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it! It’s also super fast paced with quite a bit of text/email passages.

  4. Okay, I laughed out loud at the first line of the summary here! HA, yes, I guess even criminals need office help. Mind you, I can’t help thinking that they’d never go to a temp agency to get someone, unless they already own that agency. Then I read on and well… gosh, that’s a whole lot of summary… it just goes on and on – which for me isn’t a good sign. The premise sounds good to begin with, but… yeah, I can see why you’re on the fence here.

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