Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?(courtesy of Goodreads)
I've never met a vampire story that I didn't like. Actually, that's not entirely true. Let's try again: I rarely meet a vampire story that I don't like. The Hunt was a great book. I liked it a lot, but it wasn't really the book for me. I hesitate to say that because I don't mean to give it a bad review. The book is yards away better than most other young adult novels that I've read this year, but it's just not the kind of thing that makes me go with in the knees with reader-love.
Despite the fact that I only "liked" The Hunt, I think many readers will love it. There's so many good things to say about it. Let's start with the vampires. Fukuda's vampire lore is loyal to tradition but still manages to stand on its own. The vampires crave human blood above all else, they can't go out in the sun, they have supernatural speed/scent/etc. What I loved about the vampires in this book were the little elements that made them seem like full fledged creatures, distinct from humans. For example, in the way they scratch their wrists when something is funny or how they place bowls underneath them when they eat food to catch their drool. The vampires are tinged with horror. They feel like "zompires."
Gene is a refreshing protagonist. I always enjoy the decreased angst that comes from reading stories with a male narrator. Gene is a human masquerading as a vampire. If anyone discovers his humanity, it will mean immediate death. Humans - aka hepers - are so rare that every vampire in the vicinity will happily die for the opportunity for blood. When he's chosen for The Hunt - a "privilege" to hunt and kill hepers - his carefully crafted disguise is threatened.
Gene's method of survival is to hide himself. To set up walls that keep anyone from getting to close to him physically or emotionally. This has made him a quiet, thoughtful boy. He's relied so much on his routines that he struggles at first when thrown into a new situation. He can't think instantly on his feet, but he is a survivor and figures out workarounds to keep up his disguise pretty quickly. I enjoyed seeing how Gene evolved as the book went on into someone who was capable of quick, strong decisions.
The plot is the highlight of this book. How often does a "suspense thriller" feel more like a "slow snorer?" There's not a slow moment in The Hunt. If you guess where the book is going, it's sure to go in an entirely different direction. If you get bored, wait a page or two and a huge plot revelation will launch itself at you. I can't remember the last time I read such a well-crafted plot.
There's a little romance in The Hunt. Unlike some romantic relationship in adventure YA, this doesn't feel like it was just thrown in there to fill a kissing quota. The romance doesn't overwhelm the plot, but it does enhance it.
The Hunt is a mixture of dystopia and horror, which as I've said before, is not my favorite style. But it demonstrates what is best about both dramas. Add to that a developed vampire mythology and you have a very strong book. Even though I didn't love The Hunt, I definitely recommend it.