So in this book humans are no longer the general population, and even though it never actually says the word "vampire", it's quite obvious that all the humans have been eaten by these vampires who are now populating and ruling the country. Everyone thinks that the only humans, or hepers as they are called, left are the ones in the Dome, in the Heper Research Institute. But Gene, a human boy of 17, living in this community, knows better. He's always been careful, always brushed his fake fangs and lathered on sun-repellent products to prevent a tan or sunburn, always made sure he had deodorant on to mask his heper smell. But when things start to go pear-shaped, people start to suspect him, and hiding has never been so difficult.
The best way I can explain this book is by saying that it's very Hunger Games-esque. Except with vampires, which sounds cheesy, but really, it's not, it's dark and violent and scary. I felt like I was walking on a tightrope whilst reading this book, walking next to Gene, and I was experiencing everything he was. I suggest you go read it and head straight back here to discuss!
Phew. That book was so stressful, so tense, I'm still shaken up by the ending. I really did like this book, and I'm super excited to read the next one, which has been released thankfully! So I'll start with my personal favourite thing in this book- the writing.
I haven't read many books that have writing like this. Writing that is so sophisticated but still grabs you, writing that is so poetic that even humans being devoured sounds beautiful, which makes it so much creepier. The scene where they were eating dinner at the Institute, and explaining the drip cups, and the raw meat, I was so repulsed and grossed out, but when I think of this as a movie scene, I see cheesy blood and almost shlock horror style scenes… I really do think it's the writing, hauntingly beautiful and disgusting, that sets the scene.
But then we are shown that this writing isn't inconsistent, when he uses the same writing style for all the romantic scenes between Ashley June and Gene, and I certainly wasn't feeling repulsed and disgusted during that scene.
Besides the writing, I think the whole plot was fantastic, and there wasn't a moment once they were in the Institute that I wasn't worried for Gene, empathizing with him, going through the same things he was. It was a little slow at the start, but once we got into it, the pace notched its speed up by about five hundred. It was very clever, investing us in this tightrope-situation Gene was in, where one bad move would make him dead.
The plot twists in this were rather predictable, well, that was what I was thinking when Gene got selected for The Hunt, and also when Ashley June revealed herself to be a heper too. It didn't take a genius to guess that he'd get selected, or that the one girl who seems to like him and the one girl he seems to like is human. But I certainly did not expect the bombshell at the end- that the scientist appears to be his father. I don't know how that will all work out, but I cannot wait to pick up the next book.
Okay, now onto my general thoughts. There were some really creepy scenes in this book, like when he wakes up and finds all the hunters in his room, and the sunlight streams in. At first I thought that maybe he was dreaming, but no, he wasn't. I was so worried that they'd wake up and realise he was a heper and they'd eat him. And as I've already mentioned, the idea of poor Gene having to eat the raw meat an drink the blood made me feel sick, and I was certainly sure that this wasn't a cheesy vampires-versus-humans book.
It was also interesting that unless you read the blurb, which some people don't, you wouldn't have known Gene's name until he told it to Ashley June, in fact the whole name thing was interesting to me, because in this book, most of the characters have names that Gene has given them, like Gaunt Man (who I had suspicions about being a heper), Crimson Lips and Frilly Dress. I found that really interesting, but not only that, it isolated these other characters from Gene, made them seem more distant. Particularly when he went into the Dome and the other hepers gave him their names, it really made a clear separation between hepers and the others in my mind.
Gene as a character was not a stereotypical YA boy. If he was, I can just see him standing up against all the vampires with Jace Wayland-style bravado, confronting them. He is very quiet, and pushes everyone away to prevent anything bad happening, like them finding him out and trying to kill him. He also seems to try and convince himself that the other hepers are savages, even though he is one, and he's almost stuck up, but then, when he reminds himself that he is a heper himself, he says things like "I am a fake person" which I don't see stereotypical YA boys saying. They'd say something along the lines of "I am a human. And I will avenge our race". I thought, however, that he was the perfect character for what he was and the setting he was in. I also thought that his character perfectly balanced against Ashley June's, and also Sissy's, but I'll get into the complex, hidden love shapes soon.
Ashley June, who's name isn't really Ashley June, but that's just what Gene decided to call her. I liked her from the start, defending Gene and helping him out of difficult situations. At some points, I was sceptical about my heper-suspicions for her, but they still stayed strong, and when she was in the library and taking out her fake fangs, I almost whooped in triumph. Not only because she's a very interesting character, but because Gene needs someone like her to push him into doing things. Gene, who isn't very loud or controlling, needed Ashley June, an assertive, strong and brave companion. Gene is smart, yes, but without Ashley June, I doubt he'd have been able to pull off anything to get him out of The Hunt alive and well. Their characters balance perfectly, and they work together well. I'm hoping for a sweet reunion in the next book.
The hepers in the Dome were very interesting characters, and seeing Gene interact with them had to be one of my favourite scenes (despite me stressing continuously about someone finding him there), and I think there are some interesting love triangles forming. Well, not even love triangles, a love square, I guess. Epap, the annoying, distrusting older boy is quite obviously in love with Sissy, the fearless leader. Obviously, Ashley June and Gene are somewhat together, but I'm sensing some connection between Sissy and Gene. Maybe it's nothing, but Sissy and Gene would work well together as a couple, and particularly while Ashley June's not there, I think there will be some tension between Sissy, Gene and Epap. Just a suspicion, I'm not sure.
What I'm most concerned about is that Ashley June is still stuck in the Institute. Gene will go back for her, in the next book, I'm sure… I hope… And if he doesn't, what will the people at the Institute do with her? I think she'll have to live, so I don't think that she will be killed or anything, maybe she'll escape?
I'm also worried about that scene where the guy was creeping them out by explaining about the Heper Farms and stuff, and even though I'm fairly sure he was lying, what if he isn't? What if there is thousands of hepers in farms? Gene would be very tempted to free them, I'd think, and of course, we've got to worry about the general population trying to eat them.
So that's what I thought about The Hunt, and I can't wait to grab the next one and start reading that, and finding out how Gene's father fits into this.
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