Book Reviews: Monster Hunter Alpha

I don’t review books anymore. Part of the reason for this is because reviewing books is hard while reviewing manga and anime is easy. Okay that’s not the real reason, I’ve just been narrowing my focus down to animation and comics, as such book reviews have been cut from my roster. It didn’t help that my book reviews always underperformed in the views department. Guess the people that find their way here for the cartoon reviews aren’t interested in books.

But there is one series I will always make an exception for, and that’s the Monster Hunter series, by Larry Correia. It’s easily one of my favorite series, if not necessarily my favorite. I don’t really do favorites, instead I have a blob of stuff I really like, and what is on top tends to depend entirely on whatever was released most recently.

Monster Hunter Alpha is the first Monster Hunter book that does not follow Owen Pitt. Instead it focuses on Earl Harbinger, the werewolf leader of MHI. When Earl’s old army commander finds him, and tells him about an old enemy becoming active again, Earl drives up to (location?) where he becomes involved in a supernatural attack on the local community. Without his professionally trained team to back him up, Earl has to rely on himself and the locals to face a threat unlike any he has ever encountered.

The first thing a reader will notice is that Monster Hunter Alpha is not written in first person. While not as immediately jarring as shifting between first and third person in the same book, it will take some getting used to for anyone reading Monster Hunter Alpha immediately after having read the first two books.

Since the first two books were written in first person, the question is, “Does Larry Correia know how to write in third person limited?” There are some major differences in writting between the two points of view, and it can take some practice for someone used to writing in one to get the hang of writing in the other. Monster Hunter Alpha reads just as well, possibly even more so, as the first two installments in the series.

Because I’ve always been firmly planted in the fuzier side of the werewolves vs vampires debate, this book is easily my personal favorite from the Monster Hunter series. We get to see much more about how lycanthropy works in Larry’s world, and the way he handles the monsters sticks enough to the accepted canon, while bringing enough of himself to the table to make it a familiar, yet engaging read.

Larry has always had a penchant for describing the guns his characters use more than the characters themselves. And while this can become tiring for any reader not familiar with firearms, I am pleased to say that in Monster Hunter Alpha he takes a step back. He still describes the weapons in great detail, but not nearly as much as during the first two books. This makes Monster Hunter Alpha a much more accesible read for the layman.

What impressed me most about this book was how it was entirely set in one location. Many series, Monster Hunter included have to have the characters moving from location to location to keep the plot interesting. But because of a magical snowstorm, Earl and the rest of the cast are trapped in one small town. It’s a prime example of how to write an engaging story that has limited mobility.

Because none of the established Monster Hunter characters make an appearance for the majority of the book, Monster Hunter Alpha has to rely on a brand new cast. And Larry pulls them all off beautifully. From the very base, to the most noble, everyone has a character arc, even if the destination of said arc happens to be at the pointy end of an undead. While I was worried that (Heather?) would be a mary sue, and her place in the story does little to defuse those worries, I am of the opinion that the dreaded mary sue label is thrown around too often. Yes, there are moments in the story where I couldn’t help but say, “Really? You’re going that route?” But I was far too engaged by the story to really let it bother me.

Overall a solid read for anyone that wants some no-bullshit-allowed werewolf fiction. An engaging lead, with an engaging set of side characters and villains, and so many freaking werewolves!

As an aside, Larry’s copyeditor, if you are reading this: You missed two major spelling errors. I’m not going to tell you where they are, but if you read the book over again you’ll spot them immediately. Hint: They’re in the latter half of the book, one within the last ten pages.

Buy It! Monster Hunter Alpha

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