Hunter: Review

September 4, 2015 2 star books, 2015, Kim 21 ★★

Hunter: ReviewHunter Published by Disney Hyperion on September 1st, 2015
Genres: fantasy, science fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
two-stars
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

Oh, Hunter. You had so much potential. A book in which all of the monsters of our nightmares, myths, and legends are real and a teenage girl has the magic to fight them? I’m in. A book that’s a sort of post-apocalyptic, futuristic dystopian, fantasy mash up.  How could I resist being immediately drawn in by a premise that promises battle with dragons, vampires, Fae, and all manner of legendary creatures all in one book? Yes, please. Sign me up. Unfortunately, the execution of this idea left much to be desired.

In Joy’s world, it has been 200 some years since the Diseray, an apocalyptic event that unleashed the monsters of myth into our world. Society has had some time to recover and rebuild, and there is at least one major city, though if there are more I have no idea. World building isn’t really a strength here. Joy is a Hunter, a human born with the ability to do magic that can fight the Othersiders. Raised in an isolated mountain community, she’s now on her way to Apex to join the capitol Hunting forces and protect the city.

It’s in fact on this train ride that the novel opens up with a nearly 30+ infodump on the Diseray, magic, and how Hunting works. It’s delivered so dryly and is spectacularly uninteresting. There are all sorts of monsters around. Hunters can call magical Hounds from the Otherside to aid them in battle. It’s been a few hundred years since the Diseray. That’s about what we’re informed of, but it took 30 pages. Also, apparently Hunting is something of a spectator sport for the capitol civilians. Hunters are followed with cameras 24/7 and each have their own channel devoted to their Hunting expeditions and social lives. I suppose it’s an attempt at a commentary our reality TV obsessed culture but it’s not handled with any particular grace. It just comes across as being another poor Hunger Games imitator.

In addition the reality TV commentary, there is a thread of social justice commentary that isn’t particularly well executed. Cits who live in the center of Apex are relatively safe and guarded by  Hunters. They live lives of luxury and have a reality TV-obsessed culture. The farther away you get from the city center the less and less protected you’ll be and the more run down the neighborhood. It’s all rather inelegantly told in that showy “message” way that the worst of YA can offer sometimes. It’s not the message, the problem lies in the way it’s told. Also, what ever gets done about it in this book? A fat lot of nothing.

The plot is formulaic, uninteresting, and completely derivative of more successful entries in the genre. Nothing of importance happens throughout the majority of the book. It’s just battle after battle with various creatures, none of which are particularly engaging or exciting. How can battles with a variety of mythical monsters not be exciting or engaging?!? The blurb on the physical ARC I have promises an “act of sabotage” that upends Joy’s world. That act doesn’t happen until 95% into the book. I am not kidding. That is how little much of anything happens in this book. There is allegedly political maneuvering to worry about (Joy’s uncle is a high up politician) but it is both clunky and predictable. And there is incredible convenience of what little plot there is. Check out this exchange:

“How do you become Elite? I asked….Finally, it was Mark who turned to me. “Yes. It’s actually pretty simple. You petition the Armorer for Hunter Elite.”

Oh, is that all? She then engages in a sort of brief combat trial that is very much supposed to give you the excitement of The Hunger Games but falls flat in every way. This takes place at about 90% into the book. This is as far as the plot advances.

The characterization is fine, I guess. Joy herself is a nice enough girl, but not in any way remarkable in personality. I think she is purposely supposed to be a “normal girl” (but with powers!), but the character suffers for it. There’s no distinct personality there other than “nice” and “decent.” Joy has a nice cast of supporting characters who were interesting enough on occasion. I liked her Hunting trainer Karlee, the gruff sort of lovable “soldier with a secret heart” type.  I also appreciated that Joy had a rather refreshing completely platonic friendship with a boy in this book. Although there was this rather…odd narration:

“I picked one that was most covered up, to spare Knight, although I toyed for just a littie lbit with the notion of wearing the one that was mostly straps….But I liked Knight and I didn’t want him to be so embarrassed that he went and drowned because he was trying so hard not to look at my boobs and butt.”

 

Uh…okay. [s]I mean, it’s super nice of Joy to have so much consideration of Knight like that.[/s]

I’m sure you’re wondering, “But IS there romance?” You’ll be pleased to know that as soon as Joy steps off the train and into Apex she is greeted by a super cute boy who is obviously going to be her romantic interest. She mentions the blue-ness of his eyes three times within 2 paragraphs. This is how you know. Josh is a nice and fine enough person but suffers the same characterization problems as Joy. Except we spend far less time with him. Sure, he’s nice, but he only features in a few scenes. When Joy and Josh go out on a date (yes, he asked her after meeting her just the once) and have a nice time why should I care? There is no chemistry or spark in the romance. It. needed a way slower and subtle development. Alas. It was there just to be there.

The whole thing is a rather lackluster attempt at telling a dystopian story. This might be harsh but the impression I couldn’t help but shake was that this was a paint by numbers, phone it in effort on the part of an established author trying to get in on the dystopian “trend.” Derivative, uninteresting, and completely lacking forward momentum in plot, Hunter is one you can skip without regrets.

 

 

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

 

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Responses to “Hunter: Review”

    • Kim

      The premise had so much potential that you almost kind of judge a book more harshly because of it. Im glad other reviews seem to be agreeing with me. It makes me feel less bad knowing it’s a majority view when I say, “Skip it!”
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  1. A Canadian Girl

    I haven’t read any of Lackey’s books and thought maybe I should give this one a try. Then, I read the synopsis and decided it probably wasn’t meant for me. Thanks for confirming my hunch, Kim! I don’t prefer dystopians to begin with, and have no interest in reading one that has terrible worldbuilding, characterization, and plot.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

    • Kim

      Oh yeah. If you don’t like dystopian then this is definitely one to stay away from. Even if you DO like them you should stay away. It’s all so disappointingly mediocre. *sigh*
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  2. Valerie

    Nooooo, though this is not the first mixed review I have read of this. I’m sad it was way below your expectations. I have this, but I am unsure whether I should even bother reading this.

    Awesome review Kim!
    Valerie recently posted…Review: Reawakened

    • Kim

      You should give it about 40 pages, Valerie, if you’re unsure. That brings you through the first 30 page infodump and then gives just a little bit of action. You’ll know from those 40 pages whether or not this is a book for you. I hope that helps! And if you do end up giving it a shot fingers crossed you have a much better time with than I did!
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  3. Carina Olsen

    Uhm. Wow. This book sounds SO BAD, lol :D Your review is gooorgeous Kim. <3 Thank you so much for sharing your honest thoughts. You are the best :) But haaah. Yes. This book. I'm so glad I never wanted to read it. That cover is so pretty. But it sounds so bad from what you say. It could have been good, I'm sure. But it just sounds so annoying, hah. And that last quote! Oh my gooosh. SO BAD. Seriously. Was the writing that bad all the time? Yeah, not a book for me at all, lol. And aw, I'm so sorry you didn't even like the romance. Hmph. That sucks. You are amazing for finishing it, though ;)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #201

    • Kim

      Look away from that deceptive cover! Deceptive cover is deceptive! The writing *usually* didn’t dip so low as that last quote up there. But it was wholly unremarkable throughout. The writing, the “plot,” the worldbuilding, the romance…it was all so meh. It wasn’t offensively bad, but it was almost offensive for how mediocre it was. If that makes any sense.
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  4. J. Oh

    Thank you for this review! I actually wasn’t intrigued by the premise (sounded like a derivative Hunger Games, and even the Hunger Games concept wasn’t one I loved–but Collins did it well enough), but your review does indeed convince me I can skip this with no regrets. I’ve read one too many not-so-great books lately to want to start another one. Have you read The Scorpion Rules? I was really, really not a fan.

    • Kim

      Ha you were much smarter than me! I thought the premise really did have a lot of potential. I would like to see a dystopian world where vampires, and dragons, and Fae run amok. How and why did this go so wrong? I haven’t gotten to SCORPION yet but I have heard mixed things about that one too. Whennnnn will we get a decent dystopian in YA again??
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  5. Pili @ In Love With Handmade

    Well, seeing how you didn’t enjoy this one makes me happy I didn’t bother to rush around and queue on BEA to get an ARC… I wasn’t too drawn to it, until I saw the cover because dragon-ish creature was very tempting, but I’m glad that the summary rubbed me a bit the wrong say, since it seemed like same old, same old, and according to your review I was right. I feel vindicated on my choosing to ignore it, so thank you Kim!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Saturday Pages: ARC Review of Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson!!

    • Kim

      Ohhh yes. That would have been a waste of a BEA rush. And I love that cover too! But this is a case of cover deception. Your instincts were spot on about this one, Pili. I know Lackey is highly regarded in fantasy circles. and I was hoping she’d be able to rise above the somewhat generic premise. But no such luck I am sad to say.
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  6. Kaitlyn A.

    I’m so bummed to hear this book isn’t as wonderful as it sounded! Awesome review though!

    • Kim

      I mean, you can always flip through a copy at the library and maybe you’ll see that it’s for you? I’m pretty skeptical of that, though, I am sad to say.
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  7. Layla

    She mentions the blue-ness of his eyes three times within 2 paragraphs. This is how you know.

    Snarky!Kim is one of my favorite Kims so I enjoyed this very much. But what color blue were there? Cerulean blue? Aquamarine? (That is a thing I will never forget from Alienated – the constant repetition of “blue eyes, blue eyes, cerulean blue eyes, blue like the sea, blue like the candle’s flame when it burns hottest, cerulean blue.”)

    Anywho. This book sounds skippable, so thanks for letting me feel totally justified in my decision to not read it in the near future. I’m kind of bummed, though – book’s premise makes it sound like it was written for me and I do like Mercedes Lackey in general? It’s a shame that her YA debut here is so lackluster.

    Also, I’m annoyed by the spelling of Diseray. It’s DISARRAY, OKAY? DISARRAY. It looks like “Disney” the other way. I kept misreading it, which is not what you want, Disney-Hyperion!
    Layla recently posted…Hunter: Review

    • Kim

      Ha! You know, I really edited a *lot* of snark out of this one. I didn’t want to come off as too mean. And omg ALIENATED was the most guilty of this crime. It irked me so much that one second Cah-rah’s eyes would be described as cerulean and then they were turquoise. Those are two COMPLETELY different shades of blue!!!! And here I am getting ragey about ALIENATED all over again. Some things never change. :p

      It is a mega bummer how skippable this book is. It was one of my most anticipated for this year. The premise is great and Mercedes Lackey is certainly a respected fantasy author. I just think she fell into the “established author jumping on the YA train” trap.

      Ha actually we find out that it’s not Disarray. It’s Dies Irae. In one of the random and sporadic attempts to add detail to the world we know that there are still Christian sects “Christers” and Joy has a conversation with one. When the apocalypse first happened a lot of Christians thought it was the Rapture. But when no one got bodily raised to Heaven they figured it was merely Judgment Day and called it Dies Irae and that become Diseray. That’s as indepth as any world building gets in this story.
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

  8. Vane J.

    You’re so right. The concept is really interesting, but no thank you for that derivative, formulaic plot with characters that have no chemistry nor good dynamics. Yeah, I think I did well in removing this book from my TBR. Great review, though.
    Vane J. recently posted…Review: Everything, Everything

    • Kim

      You did. It’s entirely skippable. Most of the time I try to say “It wasn’t for me, but I can see where it would appeal to other readers.” But this is one where it’s just so generic and plain and uninteresting that I can’t see how it would really appeal to anyone. Unfortunate!
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review

    • Kim

      Right. This book was all action, no heart, no plot…and what is even the point of a book if it doesn’t have those important elements, you know?
      Kim recently posted…Hunter: Review