Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: The Hunt (Fukuda)

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AUTHOR: Andrew Fukuda
SERIES: The Hunt, book 1
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin
PUBLICATION DATE: May 8, 2012
ISBN: 9781250005144
PAGES: 304
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: science fiction (post-apocalyptic)
GIVE IT TO: HS; fans of the movie I Am Legend
SUMMARY: As one of the world's last remaining humans (a.k.a. hepers), Gene depends on his ability to blend in and live among the bloodthirsty vampires that now populate his world. In order to pass as a vampire, Gene lives in darkness, eats only raw meat, and avoids sunlight, sweat, tears, body hair, and all traces of human emotion. When he gets selected in a lottery to hunt five captive humans, Gene knows he must either find a way out of the hunt or become prey himself.

REVIEW: "There used to be more of us. I'm certain of this. Not enough to fill a sports staduim or even a movie theater, but certainly more than what's left today. Truth is, I don't think there's any of us left. Except me. It's what happens when you're a delicacy. When you're craved. You go extinct," (p. 1, first paragraph).

Seriously, with an opening paragraph like that, how could I not love this book? Andrew Fukuda has an engaging storytelling style peppered with descriptions that really make readers experience the action. The Hunt is loaded with descriptions and events that make this surreal story come alive.

I love how narrator Gene stops the story to explain the concepts of sweat or singing, as if like the vampires, we readers are so inhuman we couldn't possibly understand those things. I love vampires "liquefying" in the sun and impaled by daggers that "disappear like a spoon into soup" (169). I love heper-hunting horses whose "nostrils gape wide, like a wet, silent scream" (6) when they catch a human's scent. I love the weird vampire rituals like scratching one's wrist to indicate apology or when deferring dominance to another vampire. The armpit/elbow sexual ritual is one of the oddest things I've ever read in any book, but will I remember it? You bet.

The story is mostly well-paced, but it does slow in parts. I had to suspend some serious belief during the final confrontation scene at the end. The surprise at the very end is more of a "huh" moment than a shock. It's as though some editor told Fukuda he needed to add shock-value at the end, even if it didn't make any sense with the rest of the story. Really, how is that last sentence even possible?

While I loved Fukuda's writing style and the story's unique flavor, I will say the characters are not as developed as they could have been. I never really cared for Ashley June, though I could not really say why. She seems okay, but I never connected with her. Sissy seems alright also, but again, I couldn't really say much about her specifically. Gene comes off as cocky and superior at times, and his motives kept me scratching my head. Gene is doing everything he can to simply survive, and at times, I honestly couldn't figure out why. The future holds nothing for him; he can't even smile or laugh or sweat without giving himself away. He lives in total darkness and deals with weird elbow/armpit sexual rituals. What is there to live for except an endless supply of fear, lies, darkness, and nasty raw meat? Just call me vampire kibble; I would never have the iron will required to survive all that.

THE BOTTOM LINE: One of the more unique and memorable stories I've read in recent years, The Hunt is a stand-out in a YA fiction market flooded with post-apocalyptic survival novels. Well-paced and engrossing, The Hunt will be a hit with teens and adults who love intense action and don't mind plenty of gore.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I am on the fence about including The Hunt in my library. On one hand, I know it would appeal to my zombie-loving, post-apocalyptic fiction fans (also known as 8th grade boys). On the other hand, it is incredibly violent and has lots of gore. Will I get it? Probably, but it's definitely not for everyone.

READALIKES: The Knife of Never-Letting Go (Ness); The Hunger Games (Collins); Ashes (Bick)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 4.5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; The weird armpit/elbow thing--is it like sex? Kissing? Not really sure what it is.
  • Violence: extremely high; lots of gore, death, murder, blood, guts, melting vampires, very little violence left to the imagination
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none

2 comments:

  1. The vampires, though never once called that in this book, are very much different from your average fictional bloodsucker. These creatures are horrifying. They are also odder than odd. They have strange habits and they do things entirely different from humans. Outwardly, they look the same as humans - for the most part, but they are truly nothing alike beyond that. I don't want to give away anything, but their behavior and actions are beyond strange. They are savage beasts, but intelligent ones. It's just so hard to find the words to express how unique and impressive this new take on vampires truly is.

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  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this one as an audio book. It had my complete attention - sometimes hard when you're listening to a book.

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