Sixteen year-old Ewan Mao knows one thing for certain: according to prophecy, it's his destiny to kill the evil tyrant whose dark reign has terrorized Britain. Although he's just a normal boy, deep down Ewan is confident that he has exactly what it takes to be a hero. But when Ewan's big moment comes, he freezes. His best friend, the clever and talented Oliver Abrams, defeats the villain for him, and Ewan's bright future crumbles before his eyes.
Five years later, Oliver has a job as an Unusual in the government's Serious Magical Crimes Agency, the life he and Ewan always dreamed of. But a routine investigation leads him and his partner, Sophie Stuart, to uncover a dangerous and powerful cult... one that seems to have drawn his former best friend into a plot to end the world.
A deftly plotted, hysterically funny take on Chosen One narratives, A Hero at the End of the World expertly walks the fine line between satire and sincerity. Its sensitive depiction of a broken friendship and wry take-down of unfairly great expectations will appeal to all readers of modern fantasy.
A Hero at the End of the World has been getting lots of positive reviews lately, and for good reason. It’s funny and cute and hugely enjoyable; past me, why were you so slow getting to this? You’ve had a copy in your possession since October! For shame, past-me.
Present-me is totally gleeful, though, because I had such a good time reading it! I found myself highlighting like a fiend in the first ten pages because every other paragraph had some funny thing in it. It was also a weird kind of comfort read, maybe because it has some tropes I recognize from the world of fandom/fanfic.1
Or maybe not tropes, necessarily. Plot beats? Something. It’s not like it screams “this is fanfic” (because it’s not), but gives off something that makes my brain ping in recognition. For example, my beloved coffee shop AU shows up in the form of Ewan’s job (and it’s how he meets his romantic interest).
If you’ve never read fanfic, though, don’t despair. You don’t need to be familiar with fandom to enjoy Hero.
It’s a super light-hearted book (although there are pockets of more serious things scattered around). The plot is informed by satire of fantasy story conventions, particularly with the idea of a Chosen One. Hero is not what you’d expect a book about a Chosen One to be, and I’m so glad it’s not because Chosen Ones are boring. Much more interesting is a Chosen One who got un-chosen, and who now works in a coffee shop. Especially when the un-chosen hero is silly and lovable.
Though I found Hero monstrously funny, it’s a humor based in love. It’s not a nasty satire, and though Ewan is a bit of a failure he’s not dragged through the mud for the sake of a bad joke. It’s obvious Erin Claiborne loves the source material and her characters and the world they live in and it all adds up into one big ball of YAY!
A Hero at the End of the World is a book filled with love and humor and I highly recommend it.
Read: December 11, 2014
I would also like to give a shout out to the illustrations by Jade Liebes, which are SO lovely! The wonderful cover is just the start of it. More books with illustrations! Yay!
- Since Erin Claiborne writes fanfic, the familiarity makes sense. ↩