Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monster Hunter International - MHI series, Book 1

Why can't we ever fight cute, helpless monsters, like the ones on Sesame Street?"

1. Monster Hunter International (March 15, 2011)–4 out of 5
2. Monster Hunter Vendetta (March 15, 2011)
3. Monster Hunter Alpha (August, 2011)

Narrator:  Oliver Wyman4 out of 5

Length: 23:35, purchased on audible  

Owen “Z” Pitt is not your average 24-year-old accountant from Texas.  He’s a giant of a man, speaks five languages, a marksman, a genius, and paid his way through college by fighting in illegal underground rings a la Fight Club.  He was trained by his war hero father to use every sort of firearm ever since he could walk.  “Glock” may have been his first word. All that gun love paid off when one full moon while working late, Owen got attacked by his werewolf boss, who Owen managed to shove him out of a fourteenth story window.  Now, without a job, with scars he can’t explain, and with the government threatening to kill him if he talks, what’s a gun-totting, scar-faced pencil-pusher to do?

Then comes a $50,000.00 check from a government fund for dispatching the werewolf, and a strange job offer from Monster Hunter International, a paramilitary family business, established in 1895 by gun-loving rednecks in Alabama. They don’t just go after werewolves, but vampires, zombies and every video-game monster target you can think of.  Thanks to the government-sponsored PUF fund that pays bounty checks for dispatching such unfavorables, it turns out to be quite a lucrative business.  It helps that the job offer came from Julie Shackleford, the MHI boss's granddaughter, who reduces the big man to the social skills of an 8th grader.

 "My heart went out to her. Her home was burning down, and her undead mother was intent on drinking her blood. It was a really crappy evening by any standard."

Killin’s my business and business is fine.
Where has all that Lovecraft gone? It’s here, in Monster Hunter International. We don’t just have the usual monster, but monsters of impossible, mind-bending proportions.  The main villain, the “Cursed One,” is not just a mwahaha villain (although, I assure you, C.O. has that market cornered). Larry Correia also lets us inside C.O’s head through his memories in Owen’s ghost-guided dream/nightmares that recall C.O.’s journey from a “mean son-of-a-bitch” conquistador to one very megalomaniacal, unearthly, tentacled, flesh-wriggling being who is intent of stopping time itself. Other monsters were really fascinating as well, but this audiobook is long, and a substantial part of it is spent on describing fights were almost every single villain, and some heros, get killed and regenerate everything back at least twice. That makes for very long scenes.

And the hero?  I think I’m in love. He’s giant. And a gun nut. And an accountant.  If he’s willing to convert to Judaism, I call dibs. Owen Pitt is inherently epic – like Karen Marie Moning's Mac and the amulet. My only criticism here is that it’s really hard to let the listener know how epic Owen is through first-person narration without it sounding over-the-top or silly.  Like when a master vampire tells Owen he has the strongest will of any mortal she’s ever met, or when one guys says to the other that he shouldn’t mess with Owen because he has “one hundred pounds of muscle” on him. Or worse yet, when Julie reads his file and we find out Owen’s a marksman/genius.  It rang silly for me – like Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen, who’s so cool he must have had “hundreds of girlfriends."

Is this book cliché?  Yes, in the best way possible.  It's like 1 part monsterish gore, 1 part comedy, and 1 part all sorts of artillery. It's like Hot Fuzz is cliché, where it is obvious and downright appealing. Guns aside, the best cliché is the boy meets girl connection. Not to give anything away, but Owen falls for Julie pretty hard.  He has a thing for smart gun-totting chicks with glasses, since he’s a scar-faced gun-totter and therefore is attracted to girls with impaired vision. The two have a very middle-school, pg-13 tops, romance, and it totally satisfies that giggling school girl in me. 
 On Narration:
Oliver Wyman is great.  This is the first time I heard him read, and his style is perfect for Monster Hunter International.  He has a rather macho tone with just a bit of immaturity, and again, the term “epic” comes to mind to describe his style. His reading of female voices didn’t make me burst out laughing, which is what usually happens when I listen to male narrators read girls’ voices.  The only thing that jarred me was how seriously Oliver Wyman took those vocal direction. I usually comment on whether narrators do a good or bad job at distinguishing internal monologue with external speak when audiobooks are in first-person, like this one.  The listener has no problem with distinguishing the two in Monster Hunter International, because Oliver Wyman reads the directions in a rather calm soft voice, while reading the actual words with the proper emphasis, instead of splitting the two. So, it’s something like, [sotto voce – ‘My arm snapped. It hurt like a bitch.] “AGH! THAT HURTS!!!!” [sotto voce – ‘I screamed’]  I jumped at least a few times from the dissonance between the internal and the external readings.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. It's cool to read a review of this novel from a female perspective. Everything you said was dead on. Oliver Wyman is one of my favorite narrators. he was excellent in Tim Dorsey's and Christopher Moore's novels as well.

    I recently finished Monster Hunters Vendetta, and personally, I felt there was no let down in the series.



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