Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan)
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC received from publisher
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?
Tell Me More: When you’re on your very first proper train ride and it’s going to take five hours to get to your destination, there’s nothing better than an engaging and intense book to remove you from the cramped seats and boredom. I’d been putting off reading The Hunt for a few days before my trip to Windsor, Ontario, but faced with a dying iPod, I decided to give it a shot. Quite honestly, it was the best decision I’d made all week.
Fukuda yanks readers into The Hunt like they’re about to be hit by a train–the first fifteen pages are elemental to setting up this bizarre world where people drink blood, scratch their wrists in joy and crack their necks. Or are they people in the first place? The word “vampire” immediately comes to mind, but you’d be hard pressed to actually find Fukuda throwing out that familiar life line. Instead, Gene (whose name readers won’t even spot until well into the book) makes two things clear: people are dangerous, and he is not one of them. I loved that I wasn’t sure if I could trust Gene or not; after all, couldn’t this just be part of our future evolution (as uncomfortable as it is to think about it)? But Fukuda deserves another point for infusing the first few chapters with a sense of dread and unease. Something isn’t right in Gene’s world, and if my reaction means anything, readers won’t like what they’ll find bubbling under the surface.
Many of the twists in The Hunt were obvious from a mile away, but I still enjoyed the breakneck speed at which I experienced them. Gene is a strong character, but he is also a bit obtuse–I had a couple of moments where I wanted to shake him and convince him not to make bad decisions. I also had a few moments where I wanted to curl up in the fetal position on my seat and hide from the awful situations Gene found himself in, time and again. The titular Hunt was horrifying to watch unfold, but its power could have only come from the little details. From every step of the preparations for the Hunt, Fukuda reveals more and more of the society Gene is hiding from and it adds to the suspense.
Thematically speaking, the horrors that come to light in The Hunt are ones that are smarter than most people give YA authors credit for. There is an obvious condescension when children’s literature is discussed, but if you don’t start kids thinking about their society and actions early, when can you start? I loved that Fukuda presents his readers with questions on humanity, acceptance and truth, and that he doesn’t dictate, but creates scenarios that his readers will respond to. Again, if my reaction is anything to go by, they will respond in a myriad of ways. Beyond the tongue-in-cheek nudges towards the fetishized vampire culture we live in today, Fukuda asks smart questions about cultural and political issues we tend not to notice.
The Final Say: The Hunt is an automatic choice for readers who want their horror served with slices of realism, dystopia and socio-cultural commentary. Also, it’s one of the wildest and terrifying rides YA could ever offer.
Born in Manhattan and raised in Hong Kong, Andrew Fukuda is half-Chinese, half-Japanese. After earning a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University, Fukuda worked in Manhattan’s Chinatown with the immigrant teen community. That experience led to the writing of Crossing, his debut novel that was selected by ALA Booklist as an Editor’s Choice, Top Ten First Novel, and Top Ten Crime Novel in 2010. His second novel, The Hunt, the first in a new series, was bought at auction by St. Martin’s Press and will be published in May 2012. Before becoming a full time writer, Fukuda was a criminal prosecutor for seven years. He currently resides on Long Island, New York, with his family.