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If You’re Not The Hunter, You’re The Hunted

Mercedes Lackey’s new novel, Hunter, aims to be the next great dystopia, but ends up feeling more like the product of a formula.

If You’re Not The Hunter, You’re The Hunted

BOOK REPORT for Hunter (Hunter #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Cover Story: There Be … Dragons?
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Dystopian Plot Generator
Bonus Factors: Mythological Creatures, X-Men Reference
Anti-Bonus Factor: The Special
Relationship Status: We Could Have Had Something Good

Cover Story: There Be … Dragons?

Although I’m not entirely sure what the creature on this cover is, it’s definitely dragon-adjacent. That plus the smoke plus the (awesome) title treatment, and this cover screams “this is a fantasy story.” I’m totally OK with that.

The Deal:

At some point in humanity’s future, tensions reach an all-time high, and war breaks out. When the dust settles, humans are shocked to realize that doorways have been opened to some other world, and creatures previously only described in myth and legend have come through. And they’re not looking to make friends.

Thankfully, the magic has also awoken new abilities in humans, with some gaining telepathic powers and others becoming Hunters, who—with the help of their “Hounds” (pack “animals” from the other world that for some reason want to help)—are tasked with fighting the strange Othersiders and keeping what’s left of humanity safe.

BFF Charm: Yay

At an early age, Joyeaux Charmand discovered that she was a Hunter. And for nearly a decade, she’s trained in secret to become one of the best. So, when she’s called to Apex, the country’s main remaining city, for training, Joyeaux goes. (But keeps mum about her mountain home and its secret Hunter training facility.)

In Apex, Joyeaux learns that there’s more to being a Hunter than keeping people safe and destroying Othersiders; in fact, in her age, Hunters are on par with the most famous of our time’s Hollywood elite. Because of the way she was raised, Joyeaux has trouble adapting to this new life. But even as she gets accustomed to her fancy surroundings and expectations, Joyeaux holds tight to the belief that her gift was given to her for a reason. Thankfully, this strong belief in right and wrong never comes across as cloying, but rather makes her seem like she’d be a great friend to have.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

At home, Joyeaux knew everyone, and everyone knew her. She had dalliances from time to time, but never anything series. But once she gets to Apex, even while training and hunting, she has more free time to devote to dating. Unfortunately for those looking for swoon (or sexytimes), it’s not that much time.

Talky Talk: Dystopian Plot Generator

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dystopian story as much as the next person. But there comes a time (or, in this case, a book) in which dystopian stories start to feel, well, the same. Such is the case with Hunter.

Although Mercedes Lackey has created interesting characters and, on the surface, a world that has a lot of potential—Mythological creatures suddenly appearing and proving true eons of stories that had previously been considered fictional? LOVE the idea!—there’s not enough world-building or character development (or backstory) to make this novel seem more than an attempt to capitalize on the waning dystopian trend.

(I really wanted to make a “what this book lacks …” joke, but I refrained. The things I do for you guys.)

Bonus Factor: Mythological Creatures

Like I mentioned above, the world in which Joyeaux lives has been invaded by mythical creatures. These creatures run the gamut of literature and myth—from the Bible (Gogs and Magogs) to Norwegian legend (Kraken) to creatures of the night (vampires) and the forests (faeries, goblins, kobolds, etc.). I totally dig the thought that all of these creatures are actually real, and have occasionally slipped through from their world into ours and met up with humans, who then wrote about them.

Bonus Factor: X-Men Reference

When Joyeaux’s Hounds travel long distances, they “bamph.” Although it’s spelled slightly differently, I’m pretty sure (/I hope) that this is a reference to the noise the X-Man Nightcrawler makes when he teleports. It made me smile the first time I read it.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Special

At the start of Hunter, Joyeaux is a pretty average girl (OK, yes, with what amount to magical powers), but it’s soon pointed out that she’s more than that. And as the book progresses, Joyeaux becomes more and more “unique,” until it reaches a point that her uniqueness just becomes a trope.

Casting Call:

Helena Charbila as Joyeaux

Relationship Status: We Could Have Had Something Good

Before we got together, Book, I was very excited about our date. Your synopsis checked more boxes in the Pro column of my “should I go out with this book” checklist than it did Cons. Sadly, there wasn’t much more to you than that surface-level intrigue. It’s OK to do your own thing, Book, rather than suppress your true personality for the sake of appearances.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Disney-Hyperion, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Hunter will be available Sept. 1.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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