Friday, October 26, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter International
Larry Correia

Five days after Owen Zastava Pitt pushed his insufferable boss out of a fourteenth story window, he woke up in the hospital with a scarred face, an unbelievable memory, and a job offer. 
It turns out that monsters are real.  All the things from myth, legend, and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows.  Officially secret, some of them are evil, and some are just hungry.  On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living.  Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business.     
And now Owen is their newest recruit.  It’s actually a pretty sweet gig, except for one little problem.  An ancient entity known as the Cursed One has returned to settle a centuries old vendetta.  Should the Cursed One succeed, it means the end of the world, and MHI is the only thing standing in his way.  With the clock ticking towards Armageddon, Owen finds himself trapped between legions of undead minions, belligerent federal agents, a cryptic ghost who has taken up residence inside his head, and the cursed family of the woman he loves.
Business is good.
Welcome to Monster Hunter International. 



Rosy's scrawlings on Monster Hunter International
Just a quick note before I dive into the book raving: I love the cover art by Alan Pollack. I kept going back to look at it while reading.
This book is longer than most printed nowadays, most publishers tending to limit pages as publication is then cheaper, and for a dark fantasy focused on the mass murder of various monsters it is a long story. But by no means is the story tedious because of the length, although you may get a little frustrated at having to wait for some of the answers. Alternatively, you may get a little annoyed and want to slap Owen for being so clueless. That's all just part of the charm of this ultra-violent story though. From one minute to the next you're engaged and hooked on either finding out what's going on or being smug over at least knowing you know more than Owen does. In the meantime, you also get to enjoy the big man Owen getting his arse kicked left, right and centre despite his being more armed than your average soldier.
At one point a particularly powerful and nasty vampire asks "Just how many guns do you have?" (not verbatim, I believe) and there's no more relevant question that can be asked. To be perfectly honest, I lost track myself but then I'm not really into guns, vaguely knowledgeable about guns or even interested in getting much of a clue at this point in life. You point, you stroke the trigger, you watch the kickback, protect your ears if you can and try to hit the side of the barn. That's about it for me. And in Monster Hunter International I found myself bombarded with gun tech talk and geekdom beyond my comprehension. It was impressive to say the least. I have run across one other series that has become increasingly focused on weapons details but even then it wasn't to this degree. From my standpoint of mostly ignorant though, I have to say that reading the details in this book compared to the other series was far more enjoyable as in this book there's a sort of game feel. Funnily enough, or not, there is now a game to match and I wasn't surprised at all to find this out as throughout the book I kept thinking "this would make a really good blast-em-up game like Doom or some such".
At the risk of suddenly sounding like a granny I'll say this: Owen is a lovely man, aside from his gun fetish and touch of ultra-violence. He is, as mentioned above, a little dense at times and a little prone to rushing in like a fool but he's constantly wanting only the best for those he cares for, putting his foot in his mouth or at least mumbling and stuttering shyly, blushing and being uncommonly awkward for a hero when it comes to all things romantic. It is actually quite nice to read about such a character, particularly when he's an otherwise capable action hero who routinely finds himself in particularly nasty situations. Julie, his love, is far more cutting, ruthless and adept when it comes to matters of the heart, let alone shooting, monster eradication and practically everything else. To see the pair balanced this way is quite nice, as it reveals Owen's golden heart which would otherwise be hidden under the brutal violence he deals out and it highlights Julie's bravery and skills in a manner that isn't belittled by circumstances or alternate views. There is no compromise in the writing of either character or in their rounding out and the play between them is both interesting to follow and heartening. All while blood is flying endless.
If that's not enough, there's a mystery to be unravelled, forces of evil to be battled against, an item that can stop or control time that mustn't be used and a ghost rattling about in Owen's head. And that's all after Owen fights a slavering, killer werewolf who happens to be his boss, snaps its neck and throws it out a 14th storey window. Monster Hunter International is addictive and enjoyable throughout and will likely keep you up at night as you try to find some gap in the bloodshed where you could possible shut the book and go to sleep. Yes, you may end up dreaming of killing monsters...

I'd recommend this book to: gun nuts or general gun enthusiasts, dark fantasy lovers and those interested in reading books containing a wide range of new and classic monsters. I'd say it would appeal to men more than women if I didn't know that women also enjoy a hefty dose of violence. They just need to know where to find it. Women will also enjoy Owen's awkwardness when approaching Julie. So I'd say there's something in this book for everyone.

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