I’ve got a friend who has been trying to get me to pick up Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunter International” ($7.99, Baen) for a while now. Looking at the description, it didn’t seem like the kind of thing I’d like. Boy, was I wrong.
Correia had me from the fantastic first line of the book: “On an otherwise ordinary Tuesday evening, I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth story window.”
As it turns out, the incompetent jackass in question was a werewolf, and his encounter with the beast earns Owen Pitt, Correia’s main character, an interesting offer.
Owen is a big guy with a penchant for violence. Unable to live up to his war hero father, Owen took up illegal pit fighting to make ends meet until an incident in the ring caused him to do some soul-searching. In response, he took the most boring and plain job that he could think of – accounting. He didn’t count on a werewolf boss, though.
While recovering from his encounter with the werewolf, Owen gets a visit from Earl Harbinger and Julie Shackleford, the leaders of a group called Monster Hunter International. They’re monster hunters for hire, getting paid through secret government programs that cover up the existence of such things. Owen is immediately smitten with Julie, and despite thinking it’s crazy, shows up for his job interview.
Though he’s conflicted about giving himself over to violence again, he soon finds monster hunting is his calling. It’s a good thing, too, because there’s a lot of bad stuff coming his way.
Correia’s first volume could have been a mess considering all the beasties that he tries to cram into it. He throws everything but the kitchen sink at us – zombies, wights, werewolves, vampires, Lovecraftian horrors and more. But somehow, in the craziness of it all, it works.
Owen, despite some personality issues, is a likeable guy that you can get behind, and the adventures in the book, though occasionally bordering on the silly, are great fun.
A couple of things really connected with me in the book. The first is the running heavy metal humor throughout (Owen’s brother, Mosh Pitt, of course, is part of a popular metal band, and MHI’s pilot is a devotee of the music.) I got more than a few laughs out of it.
Something that’s even more rare, though, is that Correia gets his guns right – and there are a lot of them. He’s a self-professed gun nut, and being a moderate gun nut myself, I appreciate the attention to detail, even though sometimes there’s perhaps a little too much. Sure, there are a few unlikely weapons, but it is still a fantasy, right? And what gun nut wouldn’t want an Abomination? I do.
There are also a few fun plays against fantasy and horror cliché throughout the book. I can guarantee that you’ll never look at elves and orcs the same way again.
So, the moral of the story, I guess, is that you truly can’t judge a book by its cover or the description on that cover. “Monster Hunter International” was much more than I expected. It’s fast-paced, action-packed and fun, and what more can you ask for in a monster story?