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Not a Once Upon a Time Story

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac. Mad Max meets Jurassic Park.

Not a Once Upon a Time Story

BOOK REPORT for Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

Cover Story: Alien meets John Woo
Drinking Buddy: Mean Girls meets Predator
Testosterone Estrogen Level: Dances With Wolves meets Howitzer Explosion Guy IV
Talky Talk: The Shawshank Redemption meets The Hunger Games
Bonus Factors: Native American Lore, Warlords
Bromance Status: Scary Friend

Cover Story: Alien meets John Woo

So how cool is that? Our kickass hero doing the double fisted pistol action. And unlike a lot of covers, that more or less happened in the book. The back cover has a close up of Lozen's face, in case you don't want to use your imagination. She's not whitewashed, she's pretty enough to be cute, but hard enough that you can believe she knows how to field strip just about any weapon.

Unfortunately, the book had a lot of typos, enough to be distracting. Very unusual for something that came out in hardcover.

The Deal:

So a hundred or so years in the future a mysterious cloud surrounded the earth. Like all space clouds in novels, this spelled doom for humanity, shutting down all technology. Everything that relied on electricity or combustion simply stopped working. Bad news for the rich people whose cybernetic implants started exploding. Power now lies with whoever can collect the most weapons and soldiers.

Lozen, a young Apache girl, and her family avoided the resulting chaos by moving to the American desert and living the way their people had for thousands of years. But word soon reached the warlords that Lozen was an excellent hunter. A 'killer of enemies' as her uncle phrased it. I'm not talking of deer or bears. We're talking hideous genetic experiments gone amok: gigantic porcupine wolves, eagles the size of jets, gators with armor plating...Lozen can take them all on. You see, she has kind of a sixth sense. She knows when she's in danger. She can sense her enemies. And sometimes...she can read minds. Even animal minds.

So the warlords kill her father and uncle and take Lozen to their heavily fortified compound, where she's forced to go on suicide missions to rid the world of monsters and retrieve treasures for the leaders. And she has to. They're holding her mother, sister and brother hostage. So Lozen bides her time for the day she can escape with her family, and maybe serve up some revenge.

Drinking Buddy: Mean Girls meets Predator

Lozen is so incredibly tough, it was almost (but not quite) absurd. When she's decapitating zombies around a campfire, her main concern is that their corpses don't fall into the flames and stink up the place. While she never technically ripped someone's heart out of their chest and showed it to them while it was still beating, I was waiting for it.

But when she's in the presence of Hussein, the compound's hunky head gardener, she kind of turns into a petulant twelve-year-old. Don't know why I'd expect a guy like him to look at a grimy, ugly girl like me...oh, damn, he totally smiled at me. But I bet he smiles at everyone.

It's funny where confidence abandons you.

Testosterone Estrogen Level: Dances With Wolves meets Howitzer Explosion Guy IV

I'm not sure what genre you'd call this book, and I'm not sure the author knows either. Sometimes it's a gritty shoot-em-up thriller; sometimes it's a zombie horror movie; sometimes it's a science fiction look at the future; and sometimes it's a mystical journey into the world of Native American spirituality; and of course, there's a romantic subplot.

But there's lots and lots of gunfights.

Talky Talk: The Shawshank Redemption meets The Hunger Games

On the one hand, we have the classic prison break movie, with explosions, secret passages, and crooked insiders. On the other hand, we have Bigfoot wearing a 'Kiss the Cook' apron. I kind of felt like I was reading several books at once, and much of it felt disjointed. Why did the warlord have Lozen retrieve that antique mirror? Where did the all those monsters come from? The given explanation was tenuous at best. Was the Cloud supernatural or technical in nature? Why does the cloud affect gasoline engines but not firearms?

The back flap says the author has written over a hundred and twenty books. While this was a fun read, it could have used another round of edits.

Bonus Factor: Native American Lore

Both Lozen and the author are Native American, and a lot of Native myths appear in the book. For instance, Lozen relates how Coyote once defeated a giant by allowing himself to be swallowed and attacking the monster from the inside. Lozen applies this wisdom by shoving a grenade down the throat of a gigantic snake.

Bonus Factor: Warlords

Four warlords dominate Lozen's compound: The Dreamer, The Jester, Lady Time, and Diabolita. They're as crazy as they sound. They share an uneasy truce while plotting to destroy each other. And thanks to Lozen's psychic abilities, she realizes none of them would mind if she met an unfortunate accident. Can she use their lust for power to her advantage? Or will it all end in a fiery inferno?

Bromance Status: Scary Friend

While you were an exciting book, I'm more of a contemporary romance type of guy. You're making my other books a little nervous.

Full disclosure: I received neither money or water rations for writing this review.

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.