Hunter (Hunter, #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Published by Disney-Hyperion on September 1, 2015
Genres: young adult, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound
Goshdarnit. I really, really wanted to like this book. It sounded so cool.
I was given an ARC for the second book, so I wanted to read this before I dove into that so I knew what was going on. Only, now I’m dreading reading the sequel a little. Because this book was excruciating to read.
This is what it looks like when you have an excellent idea, but horrible execution. Hunter promised an exciting and different world, with plenty of action and suspense. But that’s not what this book delivers.
First of all, this book was really boring. About 100 pages in, I started skimming. (I was bored by page 30, but 70 pages later was when I reached my breaking point.)
That tragedy they mention happens somewhere near the 300-page mark–only 74 pages from the end of the book. In the meantime, we’re subjected to Joyeux’s (what a ridiculous name) experience getting dressed up fancily, eating expensive meals, and going on Hunts. The Hunts, at least should have been exciting, but they weren’t.
I feel the writing was to blame for this. The style is written in a way that’s seems like it’s supposed to be quirky, but just came off as condescending and trying too hard.
Now, right now, I bet you’re thinking, Well, if these Monastery people are all wrapped up in protecting and helping everyone, why aren’t they in Apex in the first place? … And I don’t have a lot of answers, but… (19)
See what I mean? Just let the readers think for themselves. They’re not stupid.
“Understood. Moving in your direction.” Good; he wouldn’t be coming on the run, but he would be moving in the right direction in case everything went sour. (222)
Um, we know he’s going to be in your direction. Couldn’t you just have said, “Good. It would be nice to have him in the area, just in case something bad happened”?
…what bounded through it were four pure-white winged lions. I knew they were lions, because I’ve seen pictures of lions–but of course, no real-world lion ever had wings. (158-159)
Oh, I hope not. Poor zebras.
There were no signs of human habitation. That didn’t mean that there weren’t any humans here, it just meant that there were no signs of them. (197)
That second sentence is totally unnecessary. If you needed to put something there, you could have said something along the lines of “If people still lived here, they were doing a good job not showing it,” which would say the same thing with less redundancy.
Here are a few more cringe-worthy quotes:
This building was Purposeful, like that, capitalized. (80)
Knight ate his eggs methodically. So did I. (217)
And then there’s no mention of what, exactly, that method is. If you’re going to even bother using that adverb, you need to elaborate on it.
We’re told a lot of things instead of being shown them, and that’s one of the first big rules you don’t break in writing: Show, don’t tell. I’m really shocked that no editor caught this; telling runs rampant in this book.
I mentioned a little earlier how Joy’s Hunts should have been exciting, but they weren’t, and the writing is at fault here, too. Normally, when you’re writing a high-action scene, such as a chase or a fight, your writing changes to keep up with the action of the scene: Your sentences are shorter and to the point, and your paragraphs get shorter, because there’s a lot of the action-reaction dynamic going on, and you’re covering both sides of that dynamic. Thus, the topic changes, and a paragraph change is needed.
This did not happen during Joy’s Hunts. Instead, we’re treated to thick paragraphs with descriptions of the creatures Joy and her Hounds are fighting, musings about home, possible attack strategies (which, again, makes sense, but she rambles about them, so even those parts drag), and the like. All the immediacy is lost, and it makes even the fight scenes boring.
While we’re still on the subject of writing style, the world-building came in some awkwardly-placed info-dumps, and even the reasoning for how the world became the way it did is kind of unknown, which is kind of frustrating. Monsters have invaded your world. Surely you can give me a better explanation for why other than, “Oh, yeah, some environmental things, and a false Rapture, and some wars, and…maybe a combination of all of those?” (Not a direct quote, by the way.)
Joy herself never really held up for me as a character. Other than the grimace-worthy writing style, she didn’t stand out all that much in the vast spectrum of YA protagonists. She never really seemed as special as everyone said she was, so it was kind of frustrating that, throughout the book, she’s not really being challenged by anyone or anything. Sure, she’s fighting with other creatures (and, sometimes, people), but, eventually, she always wins. ((SPOILER)) A prime example of this is her competing in the Elite Trials and basically acing everything on her first try. If being an Elite is such a…well, elite position, why was it so easy for her to attain? ((END SPOILERS)) There was no conflict there, and so there was no suspense. She never really has to try too hard, and, even if she did, she’s forgettable enough as a character that I probably wouldn’t have cared if her buttons ever really got pushed, anyway.
But, because there aren’t any (memorable, or lack thereof) side characters really present in this book, we’re stuck in Joy’s head and on board her train of thought. That train looooves to ramble, which got really tiring.
All in all, though this was certainly a good lesson for me in how not to write and why side-characters are so, so, so important in a story, this is one lesson I kind of wish I would have skipped out on. The only reason I finished this book was so I can read and review the sequel, which, as I stated earlier, I have an ARC for.
Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, haha. And don’t bother with this book; everything about it is forgettable.