No More Heroes by Stephen Thompson

No More Heroes by Stephen Thompson

Title: No More Heroes

Author: Stephen Thompson

Review by Thivija Sabanathan

No More Heroes by Stephen Thompson follows Simon Weekes as he emerges from the 7/7 bombings as a hero. Without sparing a thought for his own safety, he fought to save his fellow injured passengers, and his actions pave him a very unwanted path into the spotlight. Simon, like most people, has his fair share of secrets, and the sudden attention that he receives from the media presents an imminent risk. However, the ease of life that money could provide proves irresistible: he sells his story and, with it, his fears come true as his hidden past is uncovered.

Though the novel is not written with the most poetic of prose, there is a different type of beauty shining through the pages. Thompson writes with realism etched into every word and each little observation that he makes creates a world so vivid that you can’t help but become lost within. This can be demonstrated from the very beginning; I read the prologue sitting on the train and, in those few pages, I was truly terrified for my life. The seemingly trivial comment on the awkwardness of standing close to the doors as passengers crossed the threshold was one of many tiny details that accumulated into an experience. Instead of falling into the world held in my hand as I usually do, the world emerged around me.

A book of two halves

No More Heroes is a book of two halves, the first with Simon as a hero and the second with him as a villain. Why this book is more than the typical story, however, is that in both halves, Simon is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’. There are petty arguments and violent acts and regret-filled flashbacks in the first half, so he is never the ‘knight in shining armour’ hero that would prevent an authentic character from rising out of the pages.

The latter half, however, is more interesting. We witness the events that build up to the final act. We see a boy exposed to the harsh realities of poverty; a boy who desired independence and an identity separate from his parents but was unable to do so safely; a boy restricted by his loyalty to friends and family; a boy who was prisoner to the deeds that must be committed to prove this loyalty. We witness the good in this boy as he develops into someone capable of committing the bad.


Simon’s big secret is that he commits a crime – I have never wavered on how absolutely wrong this crime is and, although my stance on that has not changed, my ideas on those who commit it have altered. Having felt for a man who attempted to save others on a bombed train instead of running for safety and having felt for a boy that the world was against from the very beginning, having known his regrets, having experienced the direness in his situation, I now believe that there is forgiveness for those who deserve it.

In a field dominated by the typical white protagonist, it was refreshing to read about Simon, a person of colour. A particular aspect that I appreciated was the way in which Thompson portrayed the racism that Simon faced; for example, there was a bluntness in the explanation about the media’s choice of certain photos to fit the stereotypical profile of a ‘black man’.

Simon is of Jamaican decent, but having been born and raised in England, he is caught in the void between the two, which I especially enjoyed. He is surrounded by those of his culture but, having never even been to Jamaica, his country feels more like home. I preferred Simon to a character that is completely sure about where his loyalty lies but also because Simon is someone who is lost and desires to belong, creating a more sympathetic character. His struggle of finding his own identity adds a new layer to a story that is far beyond the colour of Simon’s skin.

Review by Thivija Sabanathan

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