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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


No Hero

Jonathan Wood

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To purchase No Hero

Title: No Hero
Author: Jonathan Wood
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011
Length: 380 pages
Availability: No Hero - US
No Hero - UK
No Hero - Canada
No Hero - India

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Our Assessment:

B : some decent writing if largely too generic in plot and characters

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 5/9/2011 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Wood creates vivid, intensely human characters and his perfect sense of timing keeps the book bounding along at a quick pace. A funny, dark, rip-roaring adventure with a lot of heart, highly recommended for urban fantasy and light science fiction readers alike." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       No Hero finds Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace recruited into MI37, one of the smaller and practically unknown British military intelligence agencies, which deals with rather unusual threats to the nation (and mankind).
       In trying to solve multiple murders, Wallace figured out a pattern and stumbled into the next crime -- which is nothing like he expected (and not quite what it seems). As a result, Felicity Shaw, who runs MI37, convinces him to join the very small (rather than elite) group -- a trio of variously talented misfits. Each stumbling, frightening step along the way then he's exposed to a more surreal world than he had ever conceived of. One thing that keeps him grounded: his admiration for Kurt Russell movies -- and when he finds himself in an iffy situation he tends to try to seek a way out by asking himself what Kurt Russell would do -- a potentially annoying gimmick that actually feels almost underused in the novel.
       The plot is a fairly ridiculous one of some nasty beings crossing over dimensions and trying to take over worlds -- with their sights now set on the earth as we know it. (In this world of multiverses there are endless variations of this and all other worlds .....) These things have a nasty way of getting into folks' heads, and are more less indistinguishable from actual humans when they've taken over a body -- but they are very dangerous. Meanwhile, MI37 also protects and relies on two prophetic sisters -- girls named Ophelia and Ephemera (called Ephie) -- who float in a tank of water (along with squids and octopuses for company ...) and offer cryptic clues that lead (and mislead) Wallace in his efforts to do his part.
       Unsurprisingly, Wallace finds himself in way over his head. As a former colleague tells him:

You're a good copper. You're a great boss. You can solve a murder like nobody's business. I'll give you all that. But is this cloak-and-dagger stuff really your thing ? Really ?
       Would that it were just cloak-and-dagger stuff; in fact, it's a lot messier than that. While Shaw tells him that his leadership talents are vital for the ragtag group, it's a bit hard to see why she couldn't find someone a bit better suited for the tasks at hand -- but then given that the situations and tasks are so outlandish possibly anyone who is willing to give it a go is good enough. And Wallace does gamely go along with all of it -- even if he is, as he repeatedly admits, no hero.
       Wood's writing is decent, with narrator Wallace's voice amusing enough as he encounters and faces the nearly unimaginable. There's decent group-dynamic tension from the get-go, and Wallace's suspicions about some of his fellow agents helps add to that too. The cross-dimensional threat is all a bit silly, and quite a bit of the plot (and the violent confrontations) feel like they're made up on the go, without too much concern for any sort of possible realism; it's a shame the enemy (and the whole set-up) isn't a bit more grounded in something more ... coherent, if not plausible.
       Still, for a lite pass-time read No Hero isn't bad, and the further un-heroic adventures promised in the coming sequels sound like they have some potential.

- M.A.Orthofer, 12 May 2014

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No Hero: Reviews: Jonathan Wood: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       English author Jonathan Wood lives in the US.

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© 2014 the complete review

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