Review: Monster Hunter Alpha
There comes a time in nearly every series where the side characters of the first two or three novels become so interesting that they take on a life of their own. The readers beg, plead and offer bribes to the author for more information or more “screen time” for their beloved side-character. A lot of times we see this in the form of some short stories or novellas. But if we are lucky (sometimes), we get a full novel with that chosen side character as the main focus.
This was the case with Larry Correia‘s Monster Hunter series. From the moment the character Earl Harbinger was introduced in MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL, fans pleaded for Larry to write more about the werewolf. Larry relented, and we have MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA to show for it.
This novel will easily please Correia’s legions of fans. So often the danger in writing a full story focused on a side character is that it doesn’t feel natural or full developed. More often than not the story feels like a money grab. MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA, fortunately for everyone, never falls prey to those problems. In fact, the novel succeeds at feeling very fresh and different from the previous Monster Hunter stories.
It starts following the events of MONSTER HUNTER VENDETTA with Harbinger deciding to write down his crazy past. So what we have is a series of journal entries describing how Harbinger became the werewolf he is today. The entries ride a fine line of almost overpowering the actual modern-day story without actually managing to do so–yeah, they are completely awesome. The current portion of the story deals with Harbinger being notified that his nemesis (an ex-KGB werewolf) is running around the woods of Michigan. The novel plays out a bit like the isolation horror tale of 30 Days of Night, but using werewolves instead of vampires.
The action of the novel is, of course, extremely well done. There aren’t too many people that pull off action in Urban Fantasy as well as Correia does, and he doesn’t disappoint here. From the accurate gun-play to the brutal claw-to-claw werewolf battles, it will have you grinning ear-to-ear.
It’s mentioned in every review of Correia’s novels on this blog, and it will continue to be mentioned until people wise up. Correia doesn’t just write mindless action novels. His characters are what keep the readers interested. This side-character story succeeds because Harbinger is a great character with a detailed past. All the other characters of the novel are new, and they all manage to entertain. Deputy Heather Kerkonen is a fantastic new cast member. As usual there won’t be any spoilers in this review, but it’s worth mentioning that Kerkonen doesn’t come off as a copy of the other female characters in the Monster Hunter series. And truthfully some short stories about her adventures would be awesome (probably not a full novel, but a series of connected short stories would totally be great). You’ll understand once your read ALPHA.
So were there any issues? Of course. No novel is perfect. The thing is, most of the issues are kinda supposed to be in the novel. This isn’t Cormac McCarthy. It’s a B-movie monster killing novel with lots of guns. Expect a ton of silly one-liners. Expect over-the-top feats of strength and awesomeness. That’s the way Larry Correia writes his novels, and they are more fun for it. Look, if you aren’t having fun while reading MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA, you’re taking it too seriously. MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA is pure, undiluted fun.
Now, whether or not you like this more or less than the previous Monster Hunter novels will be up to you. Some people really like the main-line Owen Pitt novels. Others will welcome this change of pace. Pretty much everyone is waiting for the Agent Franks novel (soooooooo excited!). To each his (or her) own. Just go buy the freaking book and decide for yourself.
Recommended Age: 17 and up.
Violence: Oh man. This book was brutal. There’s a scene with a giant wood-chipper thing that is just messed up.
Language: There is more in this novel than previous ones due to the cast of characters.
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