Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Hunter #2
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Overview: Joy wants nothing more than to live and Hunt in Apex City without a target on her back. But a dangerous new mission assigned by her uncle, the city’s Prefect, may make that impossible. In addition to her new duties as one of the Elite, Joy is covertly running patrols in the abandoned tunnels and storm sewers under Apex Central. With her large pack of magical hounds, she can fight the monsters breaking through the barriers with the strength of three hunters. Her new assignment takes a dark turn when she finds a body in the sewers: a Psimon with no apparent injury or cause of death. Reporting the incident makes Joy the uncomfortable object of PsiCorp’s scrutiny—the organization appears more interested in keeping her quiet than investigating. With her old enemy Ace still active in Hunts and the appearance of a Folk Mage who seems to have a particular interest in her, Joy realizes that the Apex conspiracy she uncovered before her Elite trials is anything but gone. As the body count rises, she has no choice but to seek answers. Joy dives into the mysterious bowels of the city, uncovering secrets with far-reaching consequences for PsiCorp… and all of Apex City. -Goodreads
“Elite,” the second book in the “Hunter” series, is about a teenage girl named Joyeaux who moved from her humble home in the mountains (where she’d learned to fight Otherworlders from a young age) to the city hub to become a Hunter. A Hunter’s job is to keep the land surrounding the city clear of invading Otherworlders. They are also filmed each step of the way for the civilians’ entertainment. “Elite” is an action-centric series that takes a few chapters to get going at the very beginning, but once it hits its stride, it doesn’t let up!
“Elite” was addicting. I read so continually that rarely do I feel the need to spend more time than I already do buried in a book. “Elite” kept compelling me back to see what happened next, which was a lot of fun because I hadn’t felt super drawn to a book in ages. I attribute that to a slew of positive attributes: great writing, excellent storytelling (which builds with each chapter), good pacing, a cool concept, and a memorable cast of characters. These are the reasons “Elite” is now one of my new favorites of the genre.
The “Hunter” series offers a plethora of interesting characters, none more so than Joyeaux, the heroine of the story. I love reading about her because 1) she’s a smart cookie, always thinking things through (which keeps me engaged as I try to figure out things along with her). 2) she’s resourceful, especially when dealing with the Otherworlders (which gives each action scene a little more variety). 3) she’s relatable. She has weak moments and makes mistakes like a real human (which makes her all the more realistic and endearing). 4) and finally, she’s independent, standing solidly on her own merit and convictions. I especially like that she’s interested in a romance but isn’t driven by it. It’s nice to see a YA heroine who realizes there’s more to life than cute boys. There’s still romance in the book, but it takes a comfortable backseat to all of the other conflicts. And because the love story is not what primarily drives the story, that leaves plenty of pages for Joy to build friendships, train hard, and get to the bottom of a few mysteries.
I’ve read a few of Mercedes Lackey’s high fantasy novels (with the “Dragon Jesters” series as my favorite) and I can see a slight simplification in her writing style for the YA market. She explained things a little more thoroughly than I think she needed to but I wouldn’t go as far as to say she dumbed it down, only that she made it a little more accessible. That said, the “Hunter” series is easily among the best of her works and I might even consider it my new favorite from her if the rest of the series goes as well as these first two books. Although “Elite” had a little less Hunter-to-Hunter competition, it still remained very action-centric, which went a long way towards making up for it. It also uped the complexity by focusing more on the dynamics between all of the different factions in this post-apocalyptic world and weaving them all into a compelling mystery. This book had a lot of layers to peel back and was a lot of fun because of it.
Overall and very impressed with “Elite” and the series so far and am super eager to read more. I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves the YA Fantasy genre, especially to those who are suffering from a Hunger Games hangover.
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