Book Review: The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

The HuntThe Hunt
Andrew Fukuda
St. Martin’s Griffin, May 2012
ISBN 978-1-250-00514-4

From the publisher—

Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night–a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible–and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever–but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

In recent years, vampires in the world of books have become a matter of romance and humor and sparkle, of all things, and even fun, and it’s been hard to find a good oldfashioned bad guy bloodsucker. At last, the pendulum has begun to swing back the other way and, in Andrew Fukuda‘s The Hunt, we have vampires with absolutely no redeeming qualities (although they’re never actually called vampires). I love it!

To say these are really vampires, though, is not quite correct. Known as “people”, they also have characteristics of zombies and, in many ways, they live as humans would do. They age and apparently have children, they go to school, they are physically attracted to each other. They also have a myriad of body shapes and conditions, as do humans—no eternal pretty boys here. Bottomline, though, they are completely driven by their desire to devour human flesh and, when they get the scent, they’re a ravenous, galloping, screeching and wailing horde of eating machines.

Is a 17-year-old human boy who has worked so hard to survive better than people when it comes time to make life and death choices? Ah, there’s the rub, so to speak. What, exactly, does it mean to be human?

I had two sizeable quibbles with this story although I worked through one of them by the end of the book. For one thing, if humans (aka hepers) are in such a minority, why would Gene or anyone else try to live among them undetected? The constant need to control emotions, remove body hair, hide body odor, eat raw meat, even to find ways to avoid sports that would show a non-vampiric sweat plus lack of speed and strength would all seem to be far more effort than they’re worth. As far as I could tell, there is absolutely no advantage to living amongst them so why do it? Surely the few remaining humans could go off into the wilderness somewhere and build a shelter to keep any occasional intruders out. Even a lone human would stand a better chance hiding out in a cave than living in the midst of them.

The other issue was that I was initially appalled at Gene’s apparent lack of concern for the hepers about to be hunted and I began to really not care whether he survived or not since he obviously didn’t care about their survival. I changed my mind about that, though, deciding this was more of a good versus evil theme in that we all have it in us to choose self-preservation over empathy and, sometimes, there is no gray area. Perhaps that is the author’s point. Perhaps it isn’t and I’ve made this up all by my lonesome but it works for me.

Because the people are truly horrifying creatures and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the hunt, the level of tension sometimes reaches unbearable heights but I also felt there were stretches of plodding along that could have been tightened up and there are moments of just plain silliness (elbow in the armpit? seriously?). There needed to be more worldbuilding and I also have to agree with some other reviewers that have remarked on this being a bit derivative of The Hunger Games and even Under the Dome but I actually think that’s okay. A good author can make something different of a popular theme and I believe Mr. Fukuda has done that. Besides, a more apt comparison would be to I Am Legend.

All that aside, The Hunt is full of menace and psychological manipulation and was well worth the loss of sleep when I couldn’t stop reading. We’re left with a real cliffhanger with the last three words so, of course, I’ll have to read the next book but that won’t be a hardship. The true hardship will be in waiting for The Prey which won’t be out till next January.

Oh, and one more thing—for once, the US cover is much better than the UK.  What a pleasant surprise!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2012.