This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.
Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities,behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.
To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.
Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers,and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in-to them, Joy and her corp of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.
When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, Joy uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them.”
Okay, I kind of knew what I would probably be getting into when I started this book. Lackey, in recent years, has tended to stick to the same type of story in just about every novel of hers that I’ve read. And I was disappointed to realize that I was perfectly on target with my premonitions. Because, believe me, you’ve read this book before.
Joy is the special-est of special snowflakes. She begins Hunting as a child and quickly excels. The Hounds that she bonds to–supernatural Hunting partners that appear when someone begins channeling magic–are a rare type that can change shape. Joy can mentally speak with them and be spoken to by them, which is also rare. Joy’s uncle is one of the most powerful men in Apex City. The list goes on and on.
One trait of hers that I really couldn’t stand was her constant “This is how we did things back home” litany. It comes off as stuck-up, like anything she sees can’t compare to her beloved Mountain home. She does act overwhelmed by things she sees and experiences in Apex City, but the endless comparisons start to grate on the nerves very quickly.
As far as setting goes, think The Hunger Games meets Valdemar, with a dash of The Testing thrown in for good measure. There is nothing new here, no new ground broken. This is a completely stereotypical dystopian fantasy that does nothing more than echo what came before it. And it’s not that you can’t do a book that has similarities to others–I loved The Testing, and even I had to admit that it had a lot in common with The Hunger Games. With this book, it’s more that there’s nothing that sets it apart from the crowd. You’ve seen this all before.
The worldbuilding seems kind of shoddy as well. Lackey changes the spelling of terms almost randomly, with no real reason discernable. For example, the sixth day of the week is spelled Satterday. I’m not entirely sure how the world as a whole got to the point where we join the tale–there is some effort made to tell the history through Joy, but that leads to a lot of info-dumping.
Near the end of the book, there are some action sequences that were pretty good, and some surprising character twists and turns that finally caught my attention. I’m not sure those sections are enough to redeem the novel, but I did finally find something to enjoy. So, while not much else pleased me, the storytelling had its moments where Lackey’s proven writing talent shines through.
I’m sorry to say that I can’t recommend this book. There’s just too much that isn’t up to par, and a few awesome scenes near the end can’t save it. I hope that Lackey is able to break herself out of the rut that she seems to be in and gives us the kinds of stories that we remember and love from the early days of Valdemar.