I’m not going to waste time – you need this book. It is compelling and different than any other dystopian/action/fantasy book I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve read it four times since I got the ARC in April. That is impressively weird, even for me. I adore the first person point of view and the tough, competent protagonist. I adore the world building and the strange mix of reality TV, gladiator, and myth-gone-wrong that the characters navigate. I admit that I have a crush on this book, and I think you will, too. I hesitate to say this because it is kind of a laughable cliche in the YA book world, but if you liked a The Hunger Games, you will probably really enjoy Hunter.
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.
Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.
With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.
Joyeaux was raised on the mountain by monks and taught to hunt the magical monsters who torment humanity in a post cataclysm world. She has her own magic and her hounds to keep her safe, but hunters are rare and by law they are suppose to come to the capital for training as soon as their ability emerges. Joyeaux has avoided that fate for years but is forced to leave the people she knows, loves, and protects when her uncle is politically pressured to bring her to the Capitol. Thrust into the intrigue and dangers of a society being held together by half truths and fear, Joyeaux must rely on instinct and her training to survive both the monsters and the humans. This is the best thing I’ve read this year! It isn’t very often that I finish a book and then read it again before the week is out, but Hunter is just that good. It is crazy good. The original storyline and action kept me glued to the pages, and I was so sad to see it end. I adored Joyeaux and her matter-of-fact narrative style, a style that gives readers a refreshingly rare female warrior who is tough and capable and brave but who isn’t sullen and emotionally stunted. The magical systems and world building are clear and thoughtful, bringing in a wide array of mythical and folk tale monsters that most of us have never seen before. There was a lot of awesome battle and a little bit of romance. I was completely satisfied with the complexities of the plot and the resolution at the end. My only complaint is that I will have to wait a long while for the next book — there better be a next book. Smart, engaging, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, Hunter is going to be a big hit with readers of both genders in my high school classroom. The only thing I think might turn you off about this book is the initial pace. A lot of time is spent helping the reader get settled into this world, but I certainly thought it was important, and I found it fascinating. I cannot wait to share this book with my students and fellow YA readers. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but adult readers shouldn’t pass this one up either. Five Star Perfection.
This book is available in our classroom library, because I ordered it in April!
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.