Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Mercedes Lackey is well-known in adult fantasy circles, and this is (I believe) her first foray into young adult fiction. It's sort of like The Hunger Games, sort of like a book that uses gaming tropes to advance a plot, and mostly a swing and a miss.
The story follows Joy, a Hunter in her area of Colorado. The book takes place in a future America where there are a lot of supernatural creatures (seemingly right out of the D&D Monster Manual) running rampant. Joy has been moved to a more central location, where she will help defend the main city while taking part in what is essentially a reality television competition, but things are a little darker than what is initially implied with the move.
The story takes at least a fifth of the book to really get rolling. It's exposition on top of exposition on top of exposition, and with a length of 400 pages, there's a lot that arguably should have been cut here. It becomes so overbearing at times that I almost felt like a detached observer (much like those watching the show in the book) than really immersed in the narrative, and Joy as a seemingly near-flawless character doesn't really help matters. If that was the point from the start, it didn't work, but I do doubt that to be the case.
The book, however, isn't completely off. The battle scenes in particular are really well-done and pretty exciting at times, and the overall conspiracy aspects as well as the society isn't terrible. You just have to cut through so much stuff to get there. Maybe the move to YA lost something in translation, maybe it's just not a great read, but I can't say this even came close to meeting my expectations. An unfortunate disappointment.
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