Mercedes Lackey, 2015
New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.
To be upfront: is this sometimes a little like The Hunger Games? Yes, yes it is. First-person, ridiculously badass young female character living in remote, hard-scrabble area brought to the ridiculously technologically-advanced and decadent big city to commit violence (in this case to fight monsters, not other teenagers) and becomes a celebrity but feels incredibly conflicted about that.
That’s roughly where the parallel ends, though. Joy finds just as many friends as rivals in Apex, and there’s just as much fantasy as dystopia in this genre-blend. Hunter also deals with celebrity culture in what I think is a more nuanced manner: both what it means to be ‘on display’ 24/7 and the pros and cons of notoriety.
All the Hunters are paired with Hounds - magical beings that have chosen to ally with humans in the fight with Otherworldly creatures - and they are a particularly intriguing part of the world. The magic is interesting, especially the combinations of Hunter-style-magic, sorcery and psionics as well as ‘mundane’ high-tech weapons.
There’s a romance (of course) but it was sweet and not too much of the plot. It was just present enough to always remind me that Joy is a teenager, and so boys are on the list of important things, right under protecting the city, protecting her friends, and figuring out what the powers that be don't’ want them to know. But even magical first-responders have a social life.
There were some amusing digs at fundamentalist Christianity, as many of them didn’t react well to a catastrophe that destroyed a good portion of the world and unleashed goblins, dragons, the deadly Folk and tons of other creatures formerly-of-myth against humanity. But there was also a main character who was Christian (a minority religion in this future), so the end message on that front was tolerance, like Lackey’s work has been since the beginning.
That said, there’s rightly no tolerance or compassion for anyone working against the health of the Hunters or the safety of the populace.
I enjoyed this book. It’s a bit fluffy; the story and emotions are all on the surface, but it was a lot of fun, and I will gladly read the heck out of the sequel, assuming one is forthcoming.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book