shadowy duck (pylduck) wrote in asianamlitfans,
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Andrew Fukuda's The Hunt

Andrew Fukuda's second young adult novel, The Hunt (St. Martin's Griffin, 2012), is the first book in a series set in an alternate reality where vampire-like creatures are the "normal people" of the world, and humans are nearly extinct prey known as "hepers."

The concept for the novel is really fascinating, estranging what we consider normal by plopping a human into a world run by other creatures with different values and social structures. Fukuda's novel does an especially great job of poking fun at the limited knowledge the "people" of this world have about humans. The Heper Institute of Refined Research and Discovery, for example, comes up with some ludicrous theories of human evolution and behavior based on their experiments and anthropological studies of the remaining humans in their world. They think that humans can swim because they are evolutionarily much closer to amphibians, and they are fascinated by humans' ability to sing and reproduce melodies even months after singing a song.

The plot of the story involves a high school human boy as the protagonist, living amongst the normal people as one of them. This passing requires a lot of deception, which Fukuda describes in detail. The boy must shave all his body hair every day, scrub himself clean of any body odor, and avoid a whole range of physiological and physical responses such as blushing, smiling, sweating, coughing, and laughing throughout his nights out in school. Fukuda comes up with some interesting tics for the vampire people such as scratching of wrists as expressions of humor and other things. Apparently, the vampire people also have sexual contact differently, primarily through armpits and elbows.

The boy finds himself selected in a society-wide lottery to participate in a Heper Hunt, when a few hapless humans are released into the desert at the edges of their world to be chased by the lottery-winning people. The vampire people have an intense, predatory response to hepers, drinking their blood, rending their flesh, and breaking their bones. The response overwhelms their thinking and can lead to their death because they will try to walk through daylight (which melts them) sometimes if they are crazed enough for heper blood and flesh.

The bulk of the novel focuses on the training period that the hunters go through in the lead up to the Hunt, which usually lasts just a few hours since the hepers have no cover out in the desert and the vampire people move ten times as fast as they do. Even though the hepers have a day's head start, by the time night falls, they are simply sitting ducks out in the open. Throughout this training period, the boy must keep himself from being discovered as a heper among the vampires without his usual stash of razors, water, and other aids to his disguise that are left at home.

Though the idea of this novel is very interesting and the pacing of the novel is quite suspenseful, there were quite a number of things that I found too unbelievable to make it difficult for me to be fully immersed in the story. The major plots points are telegraphed a little too much for my tastes, too, and by halfway through the the novel, you can already figure out all the twists that are coming based on the seemingly random details that the author throws into the narrative.

Fukuda is the author a previous young adult novel, The Crossing, which I haven't read but appears to be about Asian characters in a predominantly non-Asian society. That novel is part of AmazonEncore's imprint, which republishes especially promising self-published novels.

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