Who decided that young adult books can’t be mass market paperbacks? Seriously, this wasn’t an issue until “young adult” became a big ticket genre. I know kids’ books and kids’ chapter books were always odd sizes, but they also tended to have pictures, at least here and there. But I’m getting very tired of oversized paperbacks that just don’t fit on shelves as well as mass market. Take today’s book, Hunter by Mercedes Lackey. Because this book is geared towards young adults, the paperback is oversized. And it’s not that people are moving away from mass market entirely – all of the Valdemar paperback releases are still mass market. Except maybe omnibus rereleases, but omnibi are different anyway and besides the point. I’m strictly talking about single books.
It’s not even that only young adult books are in this format (though as I said, it seems like all young adult books nowadays end up as oversized paperbacks when they’re no longer hardcover only), so it can’t be an indicator of type. You can’t even say that it’s an indicator of age, because Moonsinger’s Friends, the anthology I started this blog with, is an oversized paperback. I am tempted to declare that the things exist just to drive me mad trying to fit them onto my shelves. Have I mentioned that I’m running out of space again? There’s one more place I can fit an IKEA bookshelf, and I’m starting to seriously consider that, since I know they’ve got one for $40 or less.
But back to Hunter. This is the only young adult dystopian novel that I have read and truly enjoyed. I was a bit uncertain when I first realized it fell into that specific genre, but I’ll give Lackey a try every time. And this time it clearly paid off. I checked Hunter out from the library last year and determined that I would own it. The second book, Elite, will be out later this year and, given the fact that the first book is oversized, I have many fewer reservations about being impatient and buying the hardcover.
I’ve read a lot of mediocre books and for some reason the young adult genre just seems to breed them like flies. Do people truly think that, just because a person is younger, they will read crap? Not to mention plenty of adults like myself who refuse to care about supposed target ages. Of the very popular dystopian young adult books, I’ve only read The Hunger Games. The set of three, to be fair. The first…wasn’t bad. It was average, but worth reading. The other two are best avoided. As for the movies, I saw the first and it was fine. I have no interest in seeing any of the rest. And no interest in seeing or reading Divergent, Maze Runner, City of Bones…the list goes on and on.
I like Hunter not only because I like Mercedes Lackey, but because she’s very good at constructing a story with all the right details to keep you interested even when it’s not a high-energy action scene. This book could also be called Celebrity: Welcome to Your New Life and Also we have Magic. Because, leaving aside the dystopian setting and the magic possessed by the main characters, this book is all about the media and being a public figure.
Joyeaux, the viewpoint character (this book being told in first person), is being sent to the city of Apex from the boonies, and one of the first things she learns is that her life is no longer her own. She isn’t a private person, because she is being filmed, recorded, and otherwise observed nearly all the time. She is a Celebrity, with all that entails, and while only a limited portion of the public will ever have access to her in person, anyone can be a fan, can look her up, can gossip and chat about her. And they will, simply because she is a Hunter.
It’s always interesting to date a book based on the “advanced” technology utilized within. C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance-Union books often feature actual papers as legal identifiers and place great stock in them. Star Trek’s communicators prompted the creation of flip-phones. And so Hunter, being less than a year old, focuses very heavily on our television culture, while incorporating a number of other elements. Forums and the like are mentioned, but it’s television that gets the biggest focus. Frankly, given what’s on the stupid thing lately, it makes far too much sense. We’re wasting far too much of our time stalking people who happen to be household names for few good reasons and making a big deal over the tiniest things they say or do, blowing them far out of context because we have nothing better to do with our time. All sorts of things that Joyeaux gets to deal with in Apex.
Hunter is an origin story, our introduction to the post-Diseray (or Dies Irae) world Lackey’s created and to our heroine Joyeaux Charmand. This first novel hits the ground running, and yet still manages to continue to amp up the volume up through the final climax of the book. However, it’s clear that this is simply one mountain, or possibly even a foothill, and there’s a great deal more story to get through. After all, the mysteries haven’t become even remotely unraveled, we’ve only been made aware of their existence.
I think that this series is likely to be fairly well planned out, and unlikely to continue beyond a definitive end. Which is no bad thing. Lackey always has Valdemar to return to, so standalones and shorter series are just fine by me. I’ll be reading Hunter and its sequels happily.