|The Hunt (The Hunt #1) by Andrew Fukuda|
The Hunt (The Hunt #1) by Andrew Fukuda -- May 8, 2012 -- Hardcover, 293 pages, St. Martin's Griffin (9781250005144)
"There used to be more of us. I'm certain of this. Not enough to fill a sports stadium or even a movie theater, but certainly more than what's left today."
Gene is hiding a big secret, a secret that could prove fatal if ever revealed to those around him. He is forced to shave his body and trim his nails every single day, never tan his skin, and clean and apply razor sharp fangs before heading off to night school attended by vampires. This is because Gene is one the last remaining humans. And you thought your teen years were tough! Now, the nocturnal citizens are given the opportunity of a lifetime- participate in an event hunting down the last known humans in an exciting televised hunt. When Gene is chosen by lottery to participate in the event, he must decide once and for all if his facade of a life is worth continuing, or find another reason to hold on to the last remnants of his humanity.
You think with a title like The Hunt you would have an amazing fast paced novel full of action and suspenseful scenes, but Andrew Fukuda's book failed to deliver on this and all fronts. Although I was initially drawn in to this book because it presented such an unusual twist on the vampire mythos (and dare I say even reminded me a bit of Richard Matheson's phenomenal I Am Legend), I immediately realized the flaws in the Fukuda's world. I lost count of how many contradictions I found within the novel, and how many unbelievable constraints there were placed upon our human hero in order to pass as a vampire (no laughing, no visible show of emotion, no sweating, etc.). There is literally no way any human could inhibit their reactions 100% of the time. I actually found myself laughing out loud in certain scenes, but maybe not for the reasons you would think. A majority of the story was filled with nonsensical situations that force the reader to suspend their belief in any sort of reality. Not an ideal way to keep a reader interested, wouldn't you say?
I am at a loss for words about the world created by Fukuda. No seriously, I can't even come up with a word to describe the world in The Hunt. Oh wait, I found one! BLAH (that's a word, right?) There is absolutely no world building in this book. If you're looking for an explanation on how vampires came to be the dominant life form on Earth, you're not going to get it. I'm not even sure if the book encompasses Earth in its entirety, as the story itself seems to only take place in a teeny tiny generic city in the land of who-knows-where. Humans, called "hepers", have been hunted to near extinction, although this begs the question of how vampires were created if humans are ripped to shreds if they so much as secrete a whiff of their odor to a bloodsucker. Gene knows he will have a difficult time convincing his fellow hunters that he is a vampire once the hunt starts and his human limitations are actually revealed, but the more important mystery I found myself wondering was whether or not I actually cared if Gene is discovered. Fukuda gives us absolutely no reason why a human wouldn't just willingly turn into a vampire to fit in, there really is no downside to the change, and if he is trying to create come sort of social comment on conformity, it was lost on me entirely.
Speaking of Gene, why is he such a genius in school and such a total bonehead outside? Somehow he has managed to pass as a human among vampires for 17 years, and yet he can't even function for a moment once he is brought to the Heper Institute to begin training for the Hunt. He is now in a situation where water is not available to him, and it takes him forever to finally utilize the freaking lake that's sitting practically right outside his sleeping quarters. He then proceeds to use his dazzling intellect to make the assumption that the hepers that are being held captive in a dome inside the premises are ignorant, savage beasts, even though he himself is a heper. I'm not sure why he is trying so hard to hold onto his humanity when he doesn't even find redemption in the species himself. Oh, and did I mention that we don't even learn his name until halfway through the book? He's a real catch, this one.
Let's take a moment and discuss the writing style. I found myself continually annoyed by the fact that Fukuda tends to repeat himself over and over and over and over again (see, it's annoying isn't it? Isn't it?) It seemed like every other page the characters would just be repeating themselves for no apparent reason. I'm not sure if the author was trying to meet his word quota for this particular novel, but this is absolutely no way to fill space in a book! There's are also far too many contradictions within the story itself, in addition to unnecessary plot devices that went seemingly nowhere. I have to say, I am not a fan of the writing style, and was too distracted by these annoyances to even try to enjoy the story, or lack thereof. The characters themselves were written just like the world, very blah. Each person, including Gene and his love interest, were written as a caricature of various stereotypes (the meat head, the beauty queen, the tough chick, the stoner, the basketcase... John Hughes would be proud!), and at no point did I find myself rooting for anyone in the story. I did think the tone itself was rather ominous, but a whole lot of shrouded mystery with nothing hidden under the layers does not a good book make.
I really did want to like this book. I was actually looking forward to reading this for awhile, but I am honestly having a hard time deciding what rating to give it. On the one hand, I found the premise to be quite intriguing. On the other hand, the execution was so far-fetched and the situations so comical that I couldn't quite get into the story. Was it fast paced? Not really, considering the title. The "hunt" itself doesn't actually begin until about the last 40 pages of the book- I am not kidding. I didn't find myself empathetic towards any of the characters, nor do I feel compelled to find out where the story intends to go. Does it end on a cliffhanger? It sure does, but not in a way that makes me want to continue the series. If you like your stories with a lot of gore, a pretentious storyline, cardboard characters, and no explanation for anything, you might enjoy this hunt.
"A different name at the top of the page. This one reads: 'The Scientist.' I look down at the portrait... And the sketchbook falls from my hands."
Instead of The Hunt (The Hunt #1), you might want to try:
|I Am Legend by Richard Matheson|
|A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan|
|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins|