Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hunter Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Mercedes Lackey
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Series: Hunter Series Book One
Pages: 384

Buy on Amazon!

Where has the character gone?

(An advanced copy was provided by the publisher).

Mercedes Lackey has been a prolific publisher of fantasy for decades now, and I have been wanting to read one of her books for awhile.  When the opportunity came along to read her latest, I couldn’t resist.

Hunter is about just that, a hunter.

A hunter of what?

A hunter of a myriad of blood thirsty monsters, vicious demons, colorful bearded wizards called “the Folk”, and other inhuman creatures that have been ransacking Earth for centuries now. I would best describe this as a cross between Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Saga and Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games. Joyeaux Charmand is teenage girl who’s been trained as an elite hunter of the various monsters that are wreaking havoc throughout the planet. Raised in an isolated monastery after the death of her parents, she is summoned to the “big city” where she continues are hunting profession but now under the watchful gaze of the media, which treats hunters like pampered celebrities.

Lackey has no shortage of action scenes and monsters, most of which are based off of mythology and legend from our own culture. Hunters are able to do magic, so are some of the monsters, there are plenty of guns, knives, and packs of helpful demonic dogs that the hunters can summon. Action scenes and magic are the strongest points of the story, and I’m sure the younger adult audience that this is geared towards should find Lackey’s latest effort page-turn worthy.

Joyeaux, called Joy most of the time, is like a fish-out-of-water. It’s through her that the reader gets to discover this new big world, called “the city,”, what the dangerous hunting job entails, and a mock-up parody of celebrity culture.  While I’ve highlighted why the hunting is good, the development of the big city is lacking. Not surprising is the fact that the city is corrupt. There are people who want to see Joy fail … ie kill her … and there are people that wish to harm her uncle and remove him from power.  This whole area of the plot is explored insufficiently … as in don’t expect results from this part of the plot.  There is sequel potential here, and if the political corruption gets covered more in forthcoming books, than this won’t be too big of an issue. But as it stands, this part of the plot was underwhelming.

The media’s glorification of the hunters violent turns them into the likes of the glorified athletes we have on Earth. This invites comparisons to the Hunger Games, where Suzanne Collins’s critical take on the press was one of the best parts of the entire trilogy.  Lackey has the same opportunity do the same thing, but no substantial issues are really brought up. Instead the media heavy focus looks more to criticize the “celeb” culture and reality TV.

I think everyone, including the fans of reality TV, know it’s stupid, and it makes this whole segment look shallow. Joy embracing being a celebrity does little to help her in the long run. When Katniss embraces the media in The Hunger Games it provides her with timely supplies to survive her terrible ordeal, when Joy embraces it … it might allow her to add an extra room to her apartment.

The ultimate let down is the development of Joy as a character. She has plenty of external conflict – monsters are roaming around everywhere, someone inside the city wants to harm her and her uncle, she has to compete with other hunters for popularity, and of course there is the obligatory Y.A. romance. In regards to internal conflict, Joy has to deal with … not being from the city? The fish-out-of-water aspect is really the only source of internal conflict – besides the am I kissing this boy right? – part of the story. With first person narration, and Joy being the only narrator, this is such a wasted way to use the viewpoint. Normally writers have a problem with too much introspection in first person; instead we have Joy the perfect young girl who can do no wrong, and doesn’t have to struggle with the decisions she makes. How human of her.

Prose wise, this is a nicely written story. Action scenes, magic, and most of the worldbuilding is done real well. But the development of characters is lacking, and the celebrity culture aspect ends up making our protagonists looks pretty shallow. For the Y.A. audience looking for the next Hunger Games, concept wise this is it.

Quality wise it’s something else.

As for my first foray into Mercedes Lackey land, I’m disappointed, but I’m not ready to give up. I expect I’ll be trying some of her Valdemar stories in the near future.

Score: 5.7

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