Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hunger Games meets Zombieland...but with Vampires!

Author: Andrew Fukuda
Websites: Official Website for Book

Violence, Gore

Survival Rule #1: Don't do anything to stand out. 
Oh well, nice try Andrew Fukuda, but I'm afraid you blew it on the very first rule! Now that Mr. Fukuda has made the mistake of distinguishing himself through his excellent writing, dangerously drawing vampire attention to himself, I'll continue sharing the survival rules with the rest of the class.

Rule #2: Read The Hunt, by the aforementioned Andrew Fukuda!

The Hunt is the second vampire book I've read that doesn't actually use the word "vampire". (The other one is Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.) And both are among my short list for tops in the genre. Though, aside from the existence of blood suckers, neither book shares much in common with say, Twilight. The Hunt really is more like the movie Zombieland - the world is overrun with the undead and almost no humans remain. The human protagonist shares his rules for surviving in such a deadly world. In this case, he has to try to blend in and pretend that he is actually just a regular vampire like everyone else. Like Zombieland, Fukuda's story maintains a sort of surreal lightheartedness in spite of the fact that death is literally just a sneeze away. (Click here for your "Real Vampires Don't Have Allergies" T-shirt!)

Almost all joking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. And I don't want to give the wrong impression about the book's tone. There isn't a single moment when you forget that the protagonist is surrounded at all times by people who would rip him to shreds in two seconds if they knew what he was. Not when he's at swim practice with the blood suckers. Not even when he's playing spin the bottle and is forced to go into a closet and neck with the hottest girl in school who also happens to be a spawn of Dracula. He is always on guard and so was I when I was reading it. 

The concept is unique. Intricate details really make the setting and characters extremely realistic. (FYI, vampires don't laugh, but you'll have to read the book to find out what they do instead. Oh, and they're not "vampires" remember? They're just "people"! Don't make me send you to sensitivity training.) Not that vampires, I mean "people", are very sensitive. To them, we're all just a bunch of "hepers". And the Heper Institute for Refined Research and Discovery is exactly where our protagonist is headed as he's chosen at random to take part in a Heper Hunt. Turns out they're not extinct after all. The government's been raising a few on the down low and is ready to let a handful of lucky citizens have a chance for their first taste of genuine heper blood! I'm sure it's a coincidence that the announcement is made at a time when The Ruler's approval rankings are sagging due to the anemic state of the economy!

It's great that our hero has been able to fool his classmates and teachers, but now he'll have to test his wits against an institute filled with researches who specialize in heper studies. He'll also have to stay clear of the other hunters who would love nothing more than to rip out his jugular vein. It's an exciting book and it won't take you long to read it. But then you'll be like me, hanging around in your sleep holds, waiting for the sequel!

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