|St. Martin's Griffin|
By Andrew Fukuda
There used to be humans in Gene’s life. There were his dad, his mom, and a sister—but that was so long ago he can barely remember. Now he lives amongst vampires. Each day he meticulously shaves all of his body hair, trims his nails, sharpens his fake fangs, and pretends to be excited about lunches of bloody, raw flesh served without anything to drink. If you’ve ever seen Ethan Hawke in Gattica, you know how little room there is for any error when one is passing as someone whose DNA is so markedly different from his compatriots. Discovery means being torn limb from limb by his bloodthirsty classmates and devoured. Gene knows he is perhaps the last human alive, and there is no future of family and friends to look forward to. The best he can hope for is survival. But then the Vampire Ruler announces The Hunt—apparently there are other humans, and the vampires are going to have a lottery to see who gets to hunt them and eat them—and guess who is chosen?
The concept of humans passing as vampires is an interesting spin on the tired vampire genre, so it’s not difficult to be drawn into the narrative of the story from the beginning. Descriptions in the book are vivid and quite well done, but in that richness is a slight flaw. Clearly, this is science fiction, and yet, it is difficult to suspend one’s disbelief that Gene can actually pass as a vampire. For one thing, he doesn’t have super-human speed, and I would think that would be very difficult to hide. Additionally, at one point in the story vampires are able to sniff out humans (Hepers) in the rain over an expanse of many miles nearly losing their sanity in the process with bloodlust—and yet, flimsy cover stories allow Gene to live amongst vampires without showering for several days undiscovered. At another point in the story Gene is near-death with dehydration, and yet he chooses to sleep rather than spend the safe hours while vampires are sleeping searching for water. Gene repeatedly makes errors that result in very close calls, and yet still seems to escape undiscovered. While this does contribute to the tension of the story, it’s a hard thing to overlook. However, if one is forgiving, the story is a bloody, action-packed start to a unique new series. Younger readers, and lovers of vampires will likely eat it up. But make no mistake, this is not the next Hunger Games.