Book Reviews: Monster Hunter International

 
Every once in a while you come across a book that sounds so gloriously stupid that it absolutely must be read, if for no other reason than that it will be a goofy way to spend some free time.  But you never think that it will amount to anything more than some light fun, possibly something you can poke fun at.  But there’s no way it could be anything of quality.  That’s what it was like for me going into this book.

Guess that just goes to show how not only shouldn’t you judge a book by its cover (which in this case is awesome in the first place) but you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s pitch.  Monster Hunter International is a deceptive little book.  Larry Correia has said several times that his purpose in writing this book was basically as an homage to B Movies.  Except that B Movies are kind of stupid, or at least the ones I’ve seen are, I might just be watching the wrong ones.

MHI may be a B Movie homage, but it exceeds that and becomes legitimately entertaining because of surprising depth of character.  Correia goes beyond just making an homage, and focuses on what is really important in writing.  He gives his book a soul that goes beyond just action.  The characters are endearing, and, best of all, avoid the common stereotypes.  Can you honestly say any of your books have muscular, baptist, black men who love fantasy novels?  I didn’t think so.  Or how about a Mormon character, who is the least stereotypical Mormon I have ever seen (I really should have clued in, the hints were all there, but I was caught off guard) and who can fight off vampires by pure faith alone?  Yeah.  I didn’t think so.  I know these may be a bit spoilery, but the little snippets I just gave you were what made me push MHI up in priority on my reading list.  By which I mean it shot to the very top.

The best part about my experience while reading MHI is that I kept looking for errors, because I was convinced that a first time author’s first book had to have its fair share.  And while I did find some (on page 338 ‘had’ is spelled as ‘hsd,’ but to be fair I think this one is more of a proof editor fail.  Or at least it seems so, because it’s such an obvious typo.  But editing isn’t easy, and I think the editor in charge of that one is mortified enough after letting that obvious a mistake slip away), there were plenty of cases where I thought I had a complaint, only to have it addressed towards the end of the book.  For example, I thought a certain character was too obviously meant to be hated, and then he got a scene towards the middle of the book where I had to pause, and marvel at how well I had been played.

If there is one thing you’ve heard about MHI it’s that there are a lot of gun references, in fact I’ve heard it said that the guns are described in more details than the characters.  And I believe it.  The thing is, since I don’t have the first clue about guns, I would have thought that this book wouldn’t really be for me.  I still like them, but there’s only so many times a guy can take pausing his read to look up yet another gun on wikipedia.  The baffling thing is that it doesn’t matter.  The characters are so well developed, and the action scenes flow so naturally that there is literally something for everyone.  I would even go so far as to say that women that read only romance novels would be at least intrigued every once in a while.  Unless they read Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer.  Correia’s characters are very verbose about their hatred of vampire romances.  And when you consider the implied back story for one of the characters, it’s not hard to figure out why.

The overall plot is surprisingly engaging, managing to take the, “people killing monsters with big guns,” idea and add complexity to the world that Correia has created.  I’m amazed that with all the fantasy kitchen sink monsters stuffed into the story, he even managed to find space for some Lovecraft homages.  And, once again surprisingly, even put some Starcraft/Warhammer 40K references in.  Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it.

And no, these books have absolutely nothing to do with the Monster Hunter video games.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Correia doesn’t know about them.  Or maybe he does, reading his blog has revealed some intriguingly geeky interests. 

In the end, I think I can honestly say that Monster Hunter International has literally gotten me back into reading books.  I haven’t really read that much in a while, or been afraid to read something for fear of letting it encompass my entire life for a few days.  But if I can find more books this awesome, I don’t care about being responsible with my reading anymore, I’m going to keep on reading like there’s no tomorrow.  Which there isn’t, because it’s four in the morning and I’ve been reading all night.

If you liked my review, But the Book Here:
Monster Hunter International (Paperback)

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