Gene is 17 and has managed to survive alone in a world where nearly all of the population are vampire-style creatures who have hunted humans almost to extinction. Gene survives by fitting in, mimicking the actions, thoughts and characters of the rest of the students at his school. He knows there are a million ways in which he could slip up which would result in all of them jumping on him, driven by their mad blood lust and not stopping until he would be nothing but a pile of bones. He is meticulous in his mannerisms, his father’s teachings echoing in his head.
The only remaining humans are housed at an institute, for sport. Every decade there is a Hunt, where some of the population are chosen to hunt down the humans in a controlled area. Their reward is the pleasure of tasting human blood and flesh, which few of the population of this generation gets to do. When a Hunt is announced, Gene is selected to be one of the combatants – which means trouble.
The Hunt brings about even more ways in which he can slip up – he is not as fast as the rest of them and in the controlled conditions of the Institute, while he is being prepared/trained for it, he cannot take his usual cautions to prevent himself from being discovered. Gene knows that more than likely this Hunt is going to end with him being one of the Hunted.
The Hunt is an interesting new take on the vampire YA novels in that here, the vampires are the dominant population. They have hunted humans almost to the point of extinction, the few remaining are either in hiding like Gene, or ‘bred’ by the government and kept for purposes of the Hunts that take place. Where I admired this book in some places, including the care taken by the author in outlining Gene’s lonely world and the efforts which he goes to in order to remain in school and society undetected as being human, I felt that it also lacked in other ways. I’m not sure why Gene wanted to remain in school when there was a likelihood he could be ripped apart at any moment if he yawned, slouched, fell asleep, shivered or forgot to put on deodorant that concealed his human (‘heper’ in this book) body odour. What was the point? What was he going to do when he finished school? How did he live? I know that he mentions once, something about some money his father stashed under the floorboards or something, but there was very little about how this society came about and what the construct of it was. I wondered, given the vampires rabidness in being able to smell humans when they are at the Institution for the Hunt, how could Gene so successfully hide the fact that he was a human? The list of things he couldn’t do was endless and so many of them he would’ve had very little control over. Given the vampires speed, sense of smell and bloodlust, it didn’t seem all that likely that assimilating in society as one of them would be very successful.
Despite my misgivings with some of this novel, I did enjoy other parts of it. I found a lot of the time at the Institution quite interesting as well as Gene’s discoveries about Ashley June and also the map in his quarters. His tentative friendships with the ‘hepers’ being kept nearby seemed to take a long time to form – if you were a human and you knew other humans were close by, would you not try and make some sort of contact? And I thought the ending was quite interesting, with the usual cliffhanger to try and attract people to the second book so that they find out what happens! I’m definitely curious about where the author is going with his story so I think I will read the next novel, but I’d like it to come with more answers. My pet hate in literature is stepping into a world that is changed from the one I know and not getting an explanation of why and how.
I think that this book would be quite popular with perhaps young adult male readers – it contains a lot of things that they might find amusing (drooling, cackling, blood, people getting ripped apart etc). And while I found parts of it very interesting and enjoyable and some parts quite well constructed, there were a few holes that overall, detracted from my score of this one.
Book #108 of 2012