The Hunt series by Andrew Fukuda is no Twilight, and I mean that as a great compliment. No disrespect to Stephanie Meyer but the difference between the Twilight series and this is like the difference between a work of classic literature and a paperback beach novel. The latter can be an entertaining read, but the former elevates the concept of vampires into an epic piece of literature. In the Twilight series the vampires are good looking, romantic and even sensitive. In The Hunt they drool and clack their teeth in a horrifying way when they think prey is near.
Prey would be people who are dehumanizingly referred to as hefers. In the world of Gene, a virus has turned most of the population into vampires who have to survive on synthetic or animal meat as they have hunted the humans almost into extinction, to find a live one and consume it is the equivalent of a heroin addict getting a fix.
In most apocalyptic or dystopian books tension is achieved by the characters reacting to the situation, in the case of Gene an exquisite tension is built because he cannot react. Gene’s mother and sister were killed by vampires when he was a young boy and his father was bitten and ran into the sunlight rather then turn vampire not many years later. Gene has been left all alone to survive in a world surrounded by vampires. He was taught the rules by his father. Don’t laugh or draw attention to yourself, and don’t sweat and let them smell you. He has to follow a very complicated grooming ritual everyday to hide what he really is. He has to sit in a classroom every day surrounded by killers. He has to suppress all the things that make him human in order to survive. Most of all he has to survive the loneliness of being one of the last of his kind.
Then in a twisted turn on the Games in The Hunger Games, Gene holds the winning lottery ticket to participate in the Hunt. Only in this book, he is the Hunter not the Hunted. Once a year to raise morale in the kingdom, lucky lottery winners are selected to participate in an event to hunt some of the few remaining hefers. Gene tries everything to not participate as those selected will all be bunking down together where he cannot keep up the charade of what he is day and night. He also can’t be part of the Hunt because the physical exertion would cause him to sweat and reveal what he really is. However, physical exertion is not the only thing that might make him sweat, there is his classmate Ashley June, a beautiful redhead and fellow lucky lottery winner.
How Gene will manage these events creates an almost unbearable suspense that will torture readers in the best way.