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The Hunt (Hunt Trilogy)

The Hunt - Andrew Fukuda I am a big fan of all things strange and creepy. After reading some initial reviews about Andrew Fukuda’s sophomore offering, I knew I had to get my hands on it. And let’s just say that this book really did not disappoint on the strange.THE HUNT follows Gene, a human boy masquerading as a…vampire-like creature I guess you could say in the future. He is meticulous about keeping up appearances, until one day he is selected to participate in a “Heper Hunt” – a government-organized hunt for humans for specially selected participants at an Institute dedicated to studying hepers. Along with his slightly creepy classmate (I will explain this) Ashley June, he is taken to train and prepare to hunt the last remaining humans for their delicious succulent blood that makes these critters go gaga.On a scale of 1 to 10 for the awesomeness of the concept, I give it an 8. I take off two points solely for the fact that vampire dystopia seems to be the new en vogue thing for the year – three books within two months with similar plots. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with THE IMMORTAL RULES and this month’s DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN. I haven’t read DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN yet, but this book’s quality of writing was leaps and bounds better than THE IMMORTAL RULES. It’s literary without being over the top, as can be an issue sometimes, especially in young adult fiction.This book is really bizarre. If you’re not a bizarre, hang up the phone right now because this book will not be for you. Check out Giselle from Xpresso Reads’ review for her take from the viewpoint of the “this book was too bizarre” person. But if you like bizarre, hang with me. Gene is a very interesting narrator. This guy lost his family at a young age and was forced to adapt to survive – no sweating, no laughing, no squinting, etc. The story is told in first person present tense from his point of view, and although he’s not the easiest character to connect with, his narration whips the story forward at a very nice pace.The cast of side characters that are fleshed out and named are very small. In fact, it’s pretty much limited to the love interest Ashley June and the young Hepers they’re chosen to hunt. Names are apparently not big in Weird Vampire Critter lore, as is mentioned by Gene at one point in the story. Even the kids are not fully explored, besides leader Sissy and requisite skeptic Epap. The other hunters and denizens of the Institute aren’t named or analyzed other than appearances and skills. I wish we had known more, especially once twist one becomes apparent.But I should probably skip to the chase. There was one big problem I had with this story that automatically took off a point from my final rating. The world building, or as I would like to call it, “What the frell?”, was pretty much non-existent when it came to matters of explanations and world set up. Yes, we know what the world is in their present, but how did it come to be? Horse-drawn carriages, vampires, cheetahs… If Fukuda had taken the time to explain the world, how it came to be, how all the humans died and vampires evolved over several thousand years to become the dominant species, it would have worked better. And the explanations about humans being more closely related to fish was strange.But apparently you can be turned into a vampire? I think I might have misread that part.Oh, and my other problem? Ashley June. Her obsession with Gene was really, really creepy at times. I mean, at one point we learn that she stood outside his house and stared at the door waiting for him. Um… No, thank you.I forgot about the elbow sex. ELBOW SEX. You shove your elbow into an armpit and it’s the ultimate orgasm. That was just really, really creepy. Juxtaposed with extremely graphic scenes about gooey flesh, sunburns, hepers being hunted and killed… I did mention this book will not be for everyone, right?Ultimately, this book has one major flaw that spoiled my massive enjoyment. Another twenty pages to actually explain what the hell this world was about would have done this book WONDERS and it would have been five glowing stars dancing the salsa with Karl Urban in space. But instead, it fell a little short of that – more like a Channing Tatum in a seedy male strip club.VERDICT: Belayed by its rather nonsensical and lacking world building, THE HUNT was well written, unique, and action-packed. But that world building… Eeeeeep.