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?
** I feel I must preface this review with a piece of personal information. I am not zombie-prepared in any other way than knowing if the zombie apocalypse happens, I don’t want to survive it. That crap makes the news and I will be the first one stabbing myself so I don’t get eaten. This attitude may or may not have affected my enjoyment of The Hunt.**
When I first saw this book up on NetGalley, there was a line about “fans of The Hunger Games” will love it or something of that nature. Vampires+Hunger Games? Sign me up! I mean, really, it sounded like a book custom made for me. The first few pages in, I was really excited and could see this glowing potential for the story. Gene has a crush on this vampire girl at school and she seems into him too, but he can’t go there because he’s not a vampire and has to keep everything a secret. And now, there’s going to be this hunt–and both of them get chosen in the lottery to be hunters. It’s a fantastic set-up.
But my enjoyment of the book had already started to diminish by that point.
There are certain things the author did with regard to vampires that I liked quite a bit. Contrary to how they are often portrayed, these vampires don’t show their emotions like humans do. Facial expressions are practically non-existent. They don’t bleed when cut. They sleep hanging upside down (old-school FTW!). And they breed/make out/whatever the hell they were doing with some sort of elbow in the armpit thing. Anyway, they are very not human. And Gene is raised to be just like them. Again, cool set-up.
I had several issues with the set-up that made it difficult for me to get into the book though. First, the vampires are so alien that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out things such as why the lack of expressions and the lack of names for that matter. (Vampires only have designations, which change depending on where they are–how does anyone keep them straight?) The fact that they don’t bleed makes a degree of sense, but… not really. The usual argument for that is vampires are dead, hence blood doesn’t flow, blah blah blah. In this case though, there is no reason to think they’re dead. Everything about the rest of the world building points toward vampirism being a virus (as is commonly done in zombie stories). So, if they are alive, what’s keeping them alive if not blood? If it is blood, why don’t they bleed? (As you can see, I spent way too much time pondering this.)
Then there’s Gene. I wanted to like him, but he spent so much time trying to be an emotionless vampire that I never really connected with him. Also, his orphan upbringing left me even more questions as I read.
Plot-wise again, the basic structure of the plot was solid but, where Hunger Games (and yes, I will bring this up again–the publisher opened themselves and the author to it by using the comparison) spent about 2/5 of the book on pre-game set-up (prior to the tubes rising in the arena), The Hunt spends more like 4/5 of the book on pre-hunt set-up (prior to the hunters going after the humans). While there was a degree of tension during that first 80% of the book, the will-they-figure-out-Gene-is-human-or-not started to feel repetitive very quickly. I wanted action. I wanted the hunt.
To be fair, the book is not bad, it just wasn’t at all what I expected based on the comparison made. The Hunger Games is one of my favorite books ever, so measuring up to it would be tough on anyone. However, one of the things that made that book come alive was the emotional connections between the characters. It made you care about people and then ripped them away in violent death. Because of that lack of connections, I wasn’t emotionally invested in the characters in The Hunt.
However, if you are okay with the slower build, you might see more to love in the characters than I did. In short (since, you know, I’ve been writing a lot…), the writing is solid, the concept is great, but I just didn’t care enough about the characters or their story to make the book more than an average read for me.
(Also, I need to spare a moment for a bit of snark. Hepers? Really? Every stinking time I read that word, my brain tried to make it something else. Herpes was common. As was Lepers. The only one that came close to being accurate to the situation, however, was Heifers. Yes, the human race is now cattle. *sigh* I now return you to your regularly scheduled book rating.)