The Hunt

10913887

Author: Andrew Fukuda

Publication: 2012, St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 304

Overall Rating: bth_45_zps06f87659[1]

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Don’t sweat, don’t fall asleep in class, and whatever you do don’t cut yourself. Gene lives a life of secrets and lies, in constant fear that the vampires who live all around him will discover that he’s human. Because in Gene’s world, the fate of humans (or hepers, as they’re called) tends to be short and bloody. But now Gene has been selected to take part in the last heper hunt. And as his fellow hunters grow ever more suspicious, Gene will be forced to decide who he really is and what he’s willing to fight for.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most: Fukuda plays on vampire lore, twisting it in fun and unique ways to create a culture that’s vaguely human and utterly foreign. Then he throws Gene in the middle of it, a boy who believes that vampire culture is the only way to live, and that his strange human oddities are nothing but a source of shame. Vampires don’t sweat, they don’t get tired or nod off during the day, they don’t blink, they don’t laugh. They show humor by scratching their wrists. They eat bloody meat, but also enjoy ice cream. When they smell prey – or even think about a heper – they salivate enough to fill a five gallon pot. And don’t even get me started on vampire sex. I loved the cultural oddities, and more than that I loved seeing Gene forced to live within their world. It’s cultural adaptation taken to the extreme, and as I read I couldn’t help asking myself – could I learn to live like that, to bury my true self so deep I no longer even knew who I was?  

But what makes this truly great, in my opinion, is that – like Will Hill’s Department 19 – Fukuda dumps the recent obsession with sexy vampires who fall in love with humans and try to fit into modern society. He even goes so far as to have Gene mock that very notion, as he rips the vampire novel back to where it should be – a fight against bloodthirsty predators who will stop at nothing to enjoy the taste of human flesh.

What I Liked the Least: There’s a romantic element to the story. Now, while I may not be a total sucker for romance, I do enjoy it in healthy doses – when it’s believable. But in this case that’s a pretty serious stretch. But I don’t want to give too much away. So if you hate spoilers, stop reading now.

Gene’s not the only heper in the hunting party. I don’t think you’ll have much trouble figuring out who the other human is – I had my suspicions from early days. But given what we learn about her past and her hardcore survivalist nature, I found it very hard to believe that she’d keep throwing herself at someone she honestly believed was a vampire. Her situation was dangerous enough already. It didn’t make sense and it didn’t fit with her character. So while their post we-learned-the-truth-about-each-other romance felt real, her early affections were so patently false and off that it tainted the rest of their relationship.

How Good was the Action? Much of the book is fairly light on the action, but as the hunt gets closer the action begins to heat up – and when it does, watch out. There are some truly heart-pounding scenes here, with Gene trapped and surrounded on all sides – vampires racing along the ceiling, blood-curdling howls of desire, the scrape of razor sharp nails. Fukuda knows to write a damn good chase through dark, claustrophobic stairwells. And the final battle is a fierce and bloody affair. Hair-raising stuff, and everything a battle against vicious, predatory vampires should be.

How Engaging was the Story? Fukuda pulls us into Gene’s world of desperate secrets, tinged with the constant fear of discovery.   And for page after page he heightens the tension as Gene’s fellow hunters come ever closer to discovering the truth. Match that to a discovery that forces Gene to mine the depths of his own humanity and face up to a set of impossible moral choices, and you’ve got a story that draws you in and can’t be put down.

Overall Assessment: A cool new take on the overdone vampire genre, with the vampires stripped back to their violent, predatory roots and the tables turned, creating a world where it’s the few remaining humans who must blend in to survive. A bloody tale, brimming over with impossible moral choices and topped with a healthy dose of heart-pounding action.

Profanity: Not a lot, but Fukuda doesn’t shy away from profanity when it fits.

Sex: Not much. A bit of hand holding, a bit of fantasizing, and a scene or two of vampire sex – which is way strange and not the least bit erotic.

Violence: Absolutely. Fukuda’s vampires are the ultimate predators, and when they catch the scent of hepers they lose all control. They’ll run out into the sunlight, turning their own flesh to jellied pulp. And when they feed, it’s not just two pinpricks in the neck – suck a bit of blood and leave the rest of t body untouched. No, Fukuda’s vampires tear their victims apart and eat them down to the bones. And when that happens it’s a bloody business.

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