Source- Review copy
Publisher- Simon & Schuster
Publication date- 8th May, 2012
Synopsis- Against all odds, 17-year-old Gene has survived in a world where humans have been eaten to near extinction by the general population. The only remaining humans, or hepers as they are known, are housed in domes on the savannah and studied at the nearby Heper Institute. Every decade there is a government sponsored hunt. When Gene is selected to be one of the combatants he must learn the art of the hunt but also elude his fellow competitors whose suspicions about his true nature are growing.
Review- The Hunt is a dystopian YA novel, with an adolescent male protagonist, Gene. The world is populated by nocturnal, zombie-like citizens who would like to make a tasty meal of a human. Only, there aren’t many humans, (aka- hepers) remaining, other than what is in the Heper Institute. But there is one young man, a human who has infiltrated the rest of the population and every day he risks his life.
Gene, seventeen years old and orphaned has studied the population and had drilled into him by his father the appropriate behaviour he must abide by if he wants to live unnoticed and attend school and live a relatively normal life. Gene, scrubs himself clean every day to eradicate any body odour, the only sport he joins in on is swimming as sweat particles would make him stand out like a sore thumb but even then he has to be careful not to get Goosebumps as he would be mauled to his death if anyone noticed. There’s also some strange behaviours he must employ such as scratching his wrist rather than displaying emotions and a bizarre armpit interaction that is supposedly their version of kissing.
For years Gene has gone under the radar, but now he has been chosen for The Hunt. The first of its kind in a decade, where he will travel to the institute with six other winners to partake in the last hunt of the institutionalised hepers. Little does the institute know, that Gene is in fact one of the hunted. He arrives at the hunting grounds with fellow school mate Ashley June, who he has always felt drawn to but unable to interact with for fear of her revealing him as a heper.
Despite the oddities in this story, the author created an intriguing world without the need for information dumping. Gene is a fascinating character who is shy and strong and essentially unable to be himself because his life depends on the façade he has created his entire life. Ashley Jane is mysterious, outgoing and has a little secret of her own that I hooked onto quite early in the story.
I know that The Hunt has been compared to The Hunger Games quite a bit and I do see the similarities. The boy and girl chosen as lottery winners to attend the hunt, then the training aspect and the notion that only one hunter will win. All of these warning bells made me suspicious at first. BUT, I soon realised that the purpose of the story wasn’t The Hunt and thus there was to be no re-enactment of the hunger games which was very promising. In fact the focus of the story is how Gene is going to get out of the hunt so that he doesn’t become the prey. I particularly enjoyed his interactions with the institutionalised hepers and their defiant young leader, Sissy. I enjoyed The Hunt even though it was bizarre at times, but the author created an intriguing male protagonist which made it a different reading experience for me who has only read dystopians from a female perspective.
I recommend this YA dystopian novel, I enjoyed the characters, the suspense, the world-building and it has set up a solid introduction to the series. If you are a die-hard Hunger Games fan then I encourage you to set that aside and try not to make too many comparisons as it may hinder your reading experience. Perhaps if this was the first dystopian I had ever picked up I may have given it 5 stars, but it just wasn’t quite ‘different enough’ to blow me away for that rating.
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