Monday, August 31, 2015

ARC Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Title: Hunter
Series: Hunter #1
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published: September 1, 2015 by Disney Hyperion
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. **** 

 Mercedes Lackey has a great reputation within the fantasy community and I've been interested in picking up one of her books for a while now. So when I saw this one at BEA, I grabbed a copy excited to check one more fantasy author off my to-read list. And while there were some good things about this book, it ended up being just an okay read for me.

One thing I did really like about Hunter was the world and magical system. It's a dystopian fantasy kind of world, something that seems really popular in YA lately. The concept can be kind of hit or miss for me because you have to do both elements really well. And despite a few hiccups, here it was done well. We are post-apocalypse, but the end of civilization as we know it was caused when magical creatures have invaded. Our only hope are Hunters who can do magic. And that magic was another great thing. The magical system was a variation on the sword and sorcery model and I loved seeing it used throughout the book. I say a variation because it was like magic and technology combined. Lackey brilliantly took technology, both current and futuristic, and combined them with elements of magic. Technology was a big part of the world of this book and it made for a really good balance of science fiction and fantasy. All of that combined to create a great world and magical system.

But as interesting as the world was, the world-building didn't always work for me. Most of the first half of the book was basic exposition. I expect that in a new fantasy book, especially if it's the first in the series. It comes with the territory. But there was just entirely too much set up here. It felt a lot like most of the book was just showing off the vast array of monsters within the world. Which would have been okay if it hadn't been for the way it explained them. It went for a very literal tell style of world-building. The main character would break the forth wall sometimes and speak directly to the reader to explain the history of the world and the appearance of the monsters. There were just so many moments of info dumping and it all let to a very odd narrative style that I had a hard time with.

Plus the sheer amount of world-building and odd narrative style led to some very slow pacing and plot development. You probably know that I am a plot-driven reader. I'm engaged in a book by an interesting narrative that takes me for a ride. Unfortunately I didn't find that here, at least for most of the book. As much as I like action-packed monster-battling scenes it didn't feel like it was serving any sort of plot development. It was like a training montage. You know how I feel about anything that ends in montage (negatively, I feel negatively). Then about 250 pages in there started to be some context and cohesive development. The rest of the book was fantastic including a few surprises but it just took too long to get there. There did end up having a really good payoff but I would have liked it a lot more if the first two-thirds of the book was as good as the last third.

All in all, Hunter was a good read with some elements including an interesting science fantasy world and a thrilling ending. I'm glad I kept reading and powered through the first half but I do still wish the beginning had a little less exposition.

I give Hunter by Mercedes Lackey a 7 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/ Bypass: Borrow. If you are looking for a book with an interesting world and you don't mind a slower plot development and a little info dumping check it out. If this appeals to you give it a try but maybe see if you can power through it first.

Have you read Hunter? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Oh NO!!! I've had my eye on this one but didn't end up requesting it because I wasn't 100% sold. It sounds like maybe I made the right call... World building is so important in fantasy and it sucks that this one didn't quite get there. And the slow pacing sounds like it might be a real problem. I'm much quicker to DNF a book these days if I'm not into it... Great review though! I'm glad you at least kind of enjoyed it!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. This might actually work for me, as a slightly slower book doesn't automatically turn me off! I also somehow didn't know that this is a series, so I think I can definitely at least try! I had been worried, I'd seen a few REALLY negative reviews, and I have this book so I want to try it-- you have given me hope :) Great review!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

  3. I actually had to DNF this one. It was just way too slow and boring for me. I am glad you ended up enjoying it a bit.