Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Chronicles of Nick #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Target Audience: YA
Genre: Urban fantasy
Length: 306 pages
Story: I control my destiny and my life.
Nothing controls me.
Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is renowned. But his whole world is suddenly turned upside down on the night his best friends try to kill him.
Saved by a mysterious warrior, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters – immortal vampire-slayers who risk everything to save humanity – and he quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one that’s filled with all kinds of evil. Nick knows he’s in real danger and he soon has a lot more to deal with than high school – all without getting grounded, suspended… or killed.
Thoughts and impressions: I know that this series is a spinoff of the author’s long-standing paranormal romance series for adult readers. I’ve never read any of the Dark Hunter books, though I’m aware of their existence (who isn’t?). It’s entirely possible – if not likely – that reading this book will be a completely different experience for someone who’s read all of the other books prior to this one. For me, I felt like I was missing a lot of information. There was a lot of name-dropping and I suspect that long-time readers will recognise the names and appreciate the nods to old characters that they’d come to love and adore. However, this wasn’t the case for me, nor I suspect for many of the YA readers who will be new to Sherrilyn Kenyon.
These names meant nothing to me and just served to confuse me as, it has to be said, there were an awful lot of peripheral characters who were all named but tended to play very small roles. Indeed, I often found myself trying to keep up with the who’s who. Occasionally I’d find myself in a situation where I thought there were two characters having a conversation when a third would intervene but I had no idea who they were or when they’d come into the story. I’m a big believer in the rule that if you (the author) can tell the same story without introducing character X, then character X should not be introduced as they obviously don’t play an essential enough role to merit being there.
The synopsis is also misleading and relies on knowledge of the Dark Hunter series. There’s that little bit popped in there about how the Dark-Hunters are “immortal vampire-slayers who risk everything to save humanity” – but there’s nothing in the book about them being vampire-slayers, or even that they’re trying to save humanity. In fact, they’re not really expanded on much at all in this particular book.
So what is the book about? It’s about a young teen, Nick Gautier (who pronounces his name, Gautier, with an “sh” in it for some reason, but I just spent the whole book pronouncing it the French way – Go-tee-ay instead of Go-shay). He comes from a difficult background – his father is in prison for murder and his mother struggles to earn enough money to keep them going – but is a pupil at a prestigious school. Because of just how different he is to everyone else there, he is often bullied not only by his fellow pupils but also by the head teacher. His mum doesn’t pay any attention to his complaints and Nick is very frustrated by the existence he leads. Frustrated enough to lash out and agree to participate in something illegal at his friends’ prompting. This results in Nick getting shot and a mysterious stranger stepping in to save him from certain death.
The mysterious stranger accepts Nick into his employ in exchange for paying his hospital bills (which his mother cannot afford). This throws Nick into a new world of supernatural creatures that he’d never even dreamt could actually exist.
This first book deals with one supernatural creature in particular: zombies!
But these zombies are a little apart from the norm. Those who become zombies are still living. They’re no longer in control of their motor functions and seem to be actually hunting their targets rather than just going for the closest piece of human meat. Unfortunately for Nick, he’s one of those targeted. For someone who didn’t believe in the supernatural mere days earlier, he gets quite the wake-up call.
There are some fabulous characters in here, such as Bubba and Mark the zombie hunters. They’re the bit of humour to bringer a bit of lighter laughter to a story that’s supposed to be fairly on the dark side. I liked them both and their rules for fighting zombies (shoot first; cover yourself in duck urine; etc.)
For the most part, the novel was fairly tightly woven but there was one thing that was never really resolved: the game that induces living zombie-ism was only given to one person. It is hypothesised that someone else distributed the game to all the others who “changed”. But this is never expanded on. We never discover who distributed it beyond the original victim.
Style: There was some serious abuse of the “…” in this style. They’re all over the place!
Beyond this, there were some places where I found it hard to follow the sentence structure, but I don’t know whether that was just my head being slow or the actual style.
Final verdict: Even though I felt like I’d missed out on a lot by not having read the Dark Hunters series, I did enjoy this book. I intend to read the second book at some point later this year. 4 stars
Extra notes: Bad language is present. Sex is not.