Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Hunter, Book 1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Hardcover: 374 pages
Source: County of Los Angeles Public Library Overdrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.
Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.
To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.
Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.
When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them…
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
First of all, I cannot emphasize enough that I think this book is worth sticking through the first quarter or hundred pages. I only feel the need to bring this up, because I was surprised by the amount of one-star ratings I saw for this book and realized the reason for them was overwhelmingly that people gave up on it about 20-25% in. I’ll be honest, I don’t blame those people who did. The first part of the book really seems like it is setting up to be another run-of-the-mill dystopian YA book like Hunger Games or Divergent. However, while it does not go into a completely different direction I think that the latter part of the book is incredibly well done and more than makes up for the stale beginning.
There are several things that I really liked about the way this book handled itself after the initial set up. The first was that I enjoyed the relationships between characters. Most importantly, I liked the way the main character (Joy) was developed. There was a lot of internal monologue by Joy, as often happens in these kinds of books, but also actually interacted with several other characters including her Otherworld hounds which greatly improved the monotony that occasionally occurs. The friendships she developed were well written and nothing seemed overdramatic and were still quite compelling. Most importantly to me, she was in no way spurred on purely through romantic interest of any kind. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when it comes to strong female characters. I think that she was a nice balance between still being the young girl she is and being incredibly strong and mature when the time called for it (as expected of a heroine). The book is not devoid of romantic interest, which I think could also ring somewhat false or hollow, but it is very much a subplot that informs feelings and decisions but in no way could be considered a major part of the novel.
The other thing I thought was handled quite well that worried me at first were the Christians (referred to as Christers in the book). I hate to admit I went from laughing about the fact that they were angry that this cataclysmic event was not the apocalypse to beginning to cringe about how they were being talked about for the most part (again in the first hundred pages or so). Again though, I think that this was beautifully handled in the subsequent sections of the novel when Joy befriends a Christer hunter nicknamed “White Knight” and we get to see her much more nuanced and interesting relationship with them as a whole.
Also, the hounds are really cool and I want some.
Overall, I don’t think this book will blow your socks off and if you can’t deal with a slow start it is not for you, but if you can get past that and like this sort of novel I think you will be well rewarded with the rest of it.
ALYSSA *added 3/7/2017*
Maybe I was sufficiently warned from Andrew, or maybe I’m just used to Lackey’s style at this point, but I had no trouble getting into this book. The start was slow, but I genuinely enjoyed being slowly introduced to this weird science fiction/fantasy world. It’s incredibly complex, with its mythology and politics, and I love that Joy is at the center of it; she’s keeping the secrets of the place where she grew up while also playing the game and being a good Hunter for the higher-ups.
I agree with Andrew that the way relationships between the characters is developed is amazing. I felt like I had emotional connections with the characters almost instantly, and whether that’s because Joy is so well developed and I felt such a connection to her, or because all the characters are developed well, I don’t know. Probably a combination of the two. One of my pet peeves is also how romantic relationships are often developed in YA books, particularly. It all too frequently takes center-stage, even in a book like this one, where it seems like the pressing danger of the Othersiders should theoretically take precedence. Luckily, Lackey knows what she’s about and focuses on the story rather than the romance. There is just enough of the whole this-guy-is-cute-I-want-to-date-him thing.
My absolute favorite part, however, is how well the mythology/fantasy elements are tied together with the science fiction/post-apocalypse elements. I love how religion and fairy tales are almost given the same level of importance in this new world, where Othersiders seem very much to match a lot of the folk tales and legends found in old stories. And the ways they fight these supernatural creatures with a mixture of magic that the Hunters have within them and the tech developed by the military is also really cool; as I said, I was fascinated by this science fiction/fantasy fusion. I found it incredibly compelling.
Super excited to start the sequel!