Take Your Expectations For Dystopic YA To New And More Sophisticated Places With "Hunter"

24397041Title:  Hunter
(Hunter #1)
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Format(s) eBook Audio
Length:  374  pages, 11hrs 24mins
Narrator:  Amy Landon
Publishers: Disney-Hyperion, Blackstone Audio
Rating:  5 Stars

They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.


Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.

To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.

Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.

When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them…

My Thoughts
Joyeaux Charmand is a Hunter.  One of a gifted few blessed with the ability to see and defeat the magical creatures of Otherside, determined to feast on those of the human realm.
Her gift having been discovered at a very early age, Joy has spent much of her childhood training in the sheltered safety of a mountain monastic community.

Now in her late teens, Joy finds herself leaving her mountain home to become part of the most esteemed team of Hunters ever amassed.  Those chosen to protect the elite citizenry of Apex City.

It must be stated from the outset that though this is a dystopic story with both magical and mystical elements, said elements are not the central focus of this read.
The majority of Joy's conflicts and a great part of the story concern the great many battles that are taking place inside her.

1.  Joy's having to deal with the culture shock of coming from the straightforward simplicity of a life lived among monks; to one lived on her own and full of the unwritten rules and social expectations of life of a celebrity in Apex City.

2.  She must also establish her place among the Hunter packs.  Being so young and possessing as much skill as she does, doesn't work to help matters.  Often, Joy finds herself having to prove that she is worthy of her position, recognition, etc.

3.  Joy makes herself an accidental target of political intrigue; when she stumbles upon information that the ruling parties of Apex City are engaging in an active cover up.  Deliberately hiding the seriousness of the Othersider attacks from the citizens of Apex City.

4.  The most emotional conflicts that our young heroine faces are those that concern her personal relationships.  Whether it be the tentative nature of her relationship with her rich and powerful uncle, the losses of her fellow Hunters as the battles escalate, or the juxtaposition of a her professional versus her romantic lives; these are by far the most compelling aspects of the read.

Mercedes Lackey takes special care to explore a multitude of legends and lore when crafting both the belief systems for her characters and the creatures of the Othersiders.  Most impressive by far...
The relationship between Joy and the hounds with whom she shares her work and her life.  A variation of the Greek "hellhounds of Tartarus," Joy's hounds have specialized abilities which make them invaluable to her as a Hunter.

This is a wonderful introduction to the Hunter world.  This book is so well written in fact, that it would be a fine stand alone.

Reviewer's Note.
I read this book in both audio and eBook.
As such, I must commend narrator, Amy Landon on her portrayal of Joy.  She does a wonderful job of helping Joy to maintain her youthfulness; while never letting the reader lose sight if the severity if many of the situations in which she finds herself.  Her honest and straightforward depiction of Joy, makes her a very likable person, and keeps reader attention focused on her during times when there is a lull in plot or action.

About Mercedes
Mercedes LackeyMercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & Music, a small recording company specializing in science fiction folk music.

"I'm a storyteller; that's what I see as `my job.' My stories come out of my characters; how those characters would react to the given situation. Maybe that's why I get letters from readers as young as thirteen and as old as sixty-odd. One of the reasons I write song lyrics is because I see songs as a kind of `story pill' -- they reduce a story to the barest essentials or encapsulate a particular crucial moment in time. I frequently will write a lyric when I am attempting to get to the heart of a crucial scene; I find that when I have done so, the scene has become absolutely clear in my mind, and I can write exactly what I wanted to say. Another reason is because of the kind of novels I am writing: that is, fantasy, set in an other-world semi-medieval atmosphere. Music is very important to medieval peoples; bards are the chief newsbringers. When I write the `folk music' of these peoples, I am enriching my whole world, whether I actually use the song in the text or not.

"I began writing out of boredom; I continue out of addiction. I can't `not' write, and as a result I have no social life! I began writing fantasy because I love it, but I try to construct my fantasy worlds with all the care of a `high-tech' science fiction writer. I apply the principle of TANSTAAFL [`There ain't no such thing as free lunch', credited to Robert Heinlein) to magic, for instance; in my worlds, magic is paid for, and the cost to the magician is frequently a high one. I try to keep my world as solid and real as possible; people deal with stubborn pumps, bugs in the porridge, and love-lives that refuse to become untangled, right along with invading armies and evil magicians. And I try to make all of my characters, even the `evil magicians,' something more than flat stereotypes. Even evil magicians get up in the night and look for cookies, sometimes.

"I suppose that in everything I write I try to expound the creed I gave my character Diana Tregarde in Burning Water:

"There's no such thing as `one, true way'; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good -- they're the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren't willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race." 


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