So, on the heels the pretty shit Immortal Rules, we now have The Hunt, the more blatant Hunger-Games-with-vampires mash-up. How'd it go? Well, it's...not totally awful. Despite the similar premises, Fukuda gets points for taking his story down a very different, non-Hunger Games-y road.
A - hell, perhaps the - big problem, however, is that the book doesn't really hit its stride until a good three-quarters of the way through. As such, the first half may turn quite a few readers off with its numerous head-scratchers, eye-rollers, puzzling details, and OH MY GOD so many plot holes.
Much of the conflict and tension in the first half of the story has to do with Gene's efforts to blend in as a walking Happy Meal in a world of hungry carnivores who've been forced into vegetarianism. As the flap summary says, vampires don't sweat, don't laugh, don't shiver, don't sneeze, don't fidget - basically, they don't show outward emotion of any sort. Their faces are blank masks, their bodies still stone pillars, their senses heightened, and any wrong move, wrong expression, wrong odor could give Gene away.
So how the fuck is he still alive?
No seriously, in a world like this, with vampires like these, how has Gene fooled an entire community for seventeen years? How does anyone maintain that level of control over themselves? And forget control - some things are just flat-out impossible to avoid. Sneezing? Not once, in like five or six years of school? Sweating? He's never gotten funky? Not even in the summer?
I just don't see it, I don't. In just the little time we spend with him in the book, Gene does all of these things, and more, but gets away with it time after time because it just so happens that at that moment, nobody noticed. Three, four, five times in the same crowd of people, the tics that betray him go unnoticed, and we're supposed to believe that he's been this blatant, and this lucky, his entire life?
That's not even taking in to account the different ways in which this society functions that are uncharitable to human existence. For one, classes are held at night, and vampire eyesight is so acute that classrooms are rarely well-lit. This poses one of the many problems for Gene that we actually witness in the book, where a teacher asks him to solve a problem on a board that he can't see. Lucky, this is apparently the only time that this has happened, despite Gene's so-obvious-and-amazing-it's-a-plot-point intelligence.
Then there is the issue of food. Apparently the vampires of this world not only drink blood, but eat flesh as well. With humans being all but extinct, they live on a diet of various raw and bloody animal meats, and this is what gets served in school and during official functions, during which Gene must eat to maintain his cover.
I'm sorry, has bacteria ceased to exist in this world? E. coli? Salmonella? Staphylococcus? What about tapeworms? Diseases? Mad Cow and whatnot? Probably not, in which case it's unlikely that Gene could do this on a regular basis for years without getting sick. But even if they had, we would never know, because the book says nothing about it. It just expects us to - pardon the pun - swallow Gene subsisting on raw meats with no ill effects.
I can see how it's interesting to have this sort of high-wire act, where Gene has to constantly stay on his toes lest he forfeit his own life, but I really feel like the standards Fukuda's set here are impossibly, implausibly high.
But then, the question becomes: with all the trouble involved in this great tall high-wire act, why does Gene involve himself in vampire society at all? No really, staying away from the vampires is a totally viable option. Sunlight is deadly to them; nobody goes out during the day. So why not just swear off the night life all together and live their lives while the sun can protect them? As long as they don't know he exists, Gene is in no danger. Christ, it's not like a truant officer is going to come to his door and drag him off to school.
Noise is made about how terribly lonely this is, but really, is the companionship of monsters worth your life? And is it really so different living by a rigid set of rules every night, unable to get close to anyone, pretending to be something you're not?
I doubt it.
And hey, speaking of plot holes, ah, how do these vampires work, exactly? Are they dead? Alive? Is their basis supernatural? Scientific? Are they just mutants of some sort? We're never given any clear answer. Their behavior and habits have certainly been cherry-picked from different mythologies - they age, they sleep upside down hanging from the ceiling, they burn in the sun. So we can't glean too much from that.
So, do their actually bodies work, then? Do they piss? Shit? We're given differing accounts: one scene has Gene in a bathroom with a urinal, another has him in one with no toilet, no shower, literally nothing but a hand sanitizer dispenser. The latter is described as being typical of all bathrooms. So which one is it? And WHERE DOES ALL THE RAW MEAT GO?
The presence of a hand sanitizer, by the way, would seem to indicate the continued existence of bacteria, as well as the idea that there is something out there that vampires are at least mildly concerned about coming in contact with. So, then, do vampires get sick? One would think so, seeing as how Gene vomiting to get himself out of a tight situation is not a dead giveaway of his humanity, and vomiting is not typically something healthy people just do.
So if vampires get sick, and sick from bacteria, apparently, then one would think that there would be some sort of outward indication. That it wouldn't be all that uncommon for a vampire in class to sweat or shiver or sneeze, with the excuse that they were "getting sick". And if that isn't the case, then why the sanitizer, and to what extent do these vampires function, biologically?
Which brings us to the subject of vampire sex - and no, it's not as hot as it sounds...
Read full review at You're Killing.Us