Hunter (Hunter #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Published: 01.09.2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, YA
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Synopsis: 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. Monsters. 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.
This book. To be honest, as I’m sitting down to write this review, I have no idea where it’s going to go. Because I don’t think I have coherent thoughts on this book at all. I both loved it, and disliked it. And my brain can’t quite figure out which emotion will win.
So this book is set in our future, which makes it in my opinion a dystopian novel. In said future, things were going horribly wrong and people thought the Apocalypse was coming. But not fast enough. So some religious extremists bombed the world to further the Apocalypse somewhat. The only thing they achieved though, was creating a world in which Othersiders, monsters, can come through. The only positive aspect is that some humans now have the ability to do magic as well, and they bond with Hounds -the only friendly creatures the Otherworld has brought us.
Most people survive by living in a big city, or at least right next to one. Although the bigger cities attract more Othersiders, they also have better defenses and so there is a higher chance of survival. During this book, Joy travels to the capital -I think- and thus one of the supposedly best defended places. But is Apex really that safe?
I quite enjoyed the differences between Joy’s life growing up, and her life now in the city. She was raised on a mountain, in what used to be a Tibetan monastery. I thought this was actually set in Tibet, until she took the train for a day and ended up in the US. So I figure this was a Tibetan monastery in the US? Don’t ask me, I genuinely don’t know. I like simple fantasy settings, so I loved her life on the mountain. It was simple but intriguing. But I also enjoyed watching her discover the city.
Here’s the thing though: what bothered me were her constant reminders of the differences. At first, she compared her life on the mountain to her life now. Which of course I understand, because the mountain was all she had ever known. But after a while I got so annoyed with it. She kept saying: “remember, on the mountain we did it like this. On the mountain, no one was idle. On the mountain…”
I get it, Joy. I am not stupid, you don’t have to repeat every new discovery twice in one page. I can follow your reasoning!
Aside from that, I quite enjoyed the world, the Othersiders who actually sounded like creepy demons (and sometimes like creepy Pokémon?). I liked that there were a lot of different religions and nationalities represented: Christers (obviously a different word for Christians), Native American people, Mexican people, etc. There were many religions represented in her mountain community, which makes for a very interesting group of people -and teachers.
I usually don’t make a separate heading for the narrative of a story, because it doesn’t tend to jump out at me. In this book however, I felt it was different from the first moment.
Here’s the thing. When I’m reading, I usually feel like the person sitting in a movie theater watching the story of these characters. They obviously have no idea I’m watching their journey, because they’re in the movie. With this book though, I felt like Joy had made a video specifically for me. Like she started recording, addressed me, and asked me to listen to her story. It’s like she’s telling it to you? I don’t know whether what I’m saying makes sense but I feel like I’m reading her monologue, in a way.
I found that really interesting at first! I know some people had their issues with it, but I didn’t. I do have to admit that after a while, certain aspects got on my nerves a bit. For example, they way Joy kept telling me “remember” and they referred back to something she had explained earlier. I do remember. You don’t have to repeat it that often. Or that she made sentences with “but yeah” and “like” the way you would when you’re talking. I feel like that doesn’t really translate well to the page.
I feel like I really can’t say anything about this, because that would spoil your reading experience. I will just say that I wasn’t bored for a second. A lot of people had trouble at the start of this book, because there’s a lot of information coming at you, when Joy is on the train. It’s really a bit infodumpy. I usually hate that, but in this case I didn’t have a problem with it -mainly because of the narrative I think.
I quite enjoyed the story line of this book, and the world, which are the biggest reasons that I want to continue the series. I need to know what happens next, because the big mystery of this book didn’t really get solved.
Of course, we need to talk about Joy. I really like how much she cares about people, and how hard she works. She helps people because she feels like that’s her duty, and that’s what she wants to do. So I appreciate how genuine and selfless she could be. Of course, I like a good story about a girl with a lot of power and kickass battle skills. I liked how protective and kind she was to her friends, and also how open-minded she could be towards people who didn’t share her beliefs/opinions. The only thing I didn’t really like is how she conveniently was able to do everything required because of her mountain-upbringing. For example: all the Hunters are stumped with this new monsters. Luckily, we’ve seen it on the mountain and I know just the magic spell to defeat them. That gets a bit old after a while. But overall, I really enjoyed her as a main character.
I also liked Josh. I feel like this is the first time there’s an uncomplicated, non-instalove, non-love-triangle romance in a YA fantasy. She met this guy, thought he was cute, and so they started going on dates. They really like each other. It’s cute. I appreciate that. I do think that having a Psimon (who are basically telepaths) as a boyfriend could have its disadvantages…
I thought that I’d have my thoughts all figured out by the end of this review. It turns out, I still don’t. Here’s what I’ll say. I really enjoyed the actual story line and I think the world is very interesting. Most of the time, I also enjoy reading from Joy’s perspective. I think my main frustrations lie with the narration-style at times, and Joy’s convenient knowledge. I think I do want to continue the series, to see what happens next.