Book Review – No More Heroes by Stephen Thompson

imageNo More Heroes was on one of those lists, “The Best Books of 2015 That You Haven’t Read”, or something. I often take offense at such lists, assuming that the writer has this wealth of knowledge that no one else could possibly possess.

Anyway, it stood out because there was a quote from a reader who wrote something along the lines of “Got to page xx of this book, and OH MY GOD!”. I’m a sucker for this kind of statement. For instance, I’m currently reading After the Crash by Michel Bussi, merely because Waterstones tweeted “The ending. THE ENDING!”. In short, I’m a marketing department’s wet dream.

No More Heroes is the story of Simon Weekes, a London resident, who becomes something of a local hero following his superhuman actions during the 7/7 bombings. The prologue is an extremely graphic description of the carnage that occurred that day, successfully creating the claustrophobic terror that the victims endured. In fact, it was so detailed, I wonder if Thompson was actually present during the event.

Weekes continues to have a normal life despite his new-found celebrity, living in a quiet suburb, and working in Blockbuster Video (remember Blockbuster?!). However, it becomes clear that something in his past is haunting him; something he has worked very hard to distance himself from. When Weekes finally decides to sell his story of heroism to the notoriously ravenous UK tabloids, the floodgates open and his past is revealled, putting his relationships, mental health, and life in danger.

I really wanted to love this book, but I merely liked it. It started so well, but did little to hold my attention. The story unraveled slowly, which isn’t usually a problem, but I don’t think Thompson seeded his big reveal very well. Rather than a plot “twist”, it just emerged as a plot point.

I wasn’t overly keen on Thompson’s writing style. It was very straightforward, which I suppose reflected the simplicity of Simon’s character quite well. However, I’m a fan of more poetic, complex prose, and I found this conversational approach quite grating.

My main problem was that I just didn’t care about the central character. Even before his dark past is revealled, I found it hard to relate to this seemingly “normal” bloke. His struggles, while entirely authentic and believable, were written in such a way that I found it hard to connect emotionally. Rather than going on a journey with Simon, I just found myself bashing through the pages like I would a catalogue.

I found the book to be quite disappointing, because the concept, and prologue, are so fantastic. I just wasn’t gripped. I’m sure with an expert editorial hand, this book could have been so much better, as Thompson clearly has some talent. However, if you’re a fan of books written by reform thugs and gangsters, maybe you’ll get a kick out of this. I just prefer it when danger is implied and unseen.

No More Heroes on Goodreads

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