I found Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia through a list of the best sci-fi and fantasy of 2015, as a result of the last book in the series having been released that year. The premise – a guy joins an international monster hunting business to kill creatures of the night – isn’t entirely unfamiliar to me. I’m a fan of those types of stories, provided they’re done well, or interestingly, at the very least. The fact that MHI was free to read via Kindle made it my first pick.
Honestly, I’m weirdly glad I stuck with this one. The writing is pretty bad, but it gets better by the end. It goes from “nigh unreadable” to acceptable pretty quickly. It also starts as somewhat self-masturbatory fan fiction, where the writer (an accountant who identifies as a bit of a gun nut, and who worked as a concealed carry instructor) is writing a story about his idealized self (300 lbs of mostly solid muscle, accountant who carries guns everywhere and is successful in all things but love, and is full of unrealized potential) killing his boss who is also a werewolf. The progression from this, to the character joining the titular organization is a little iffy, and a lot of the “prophecy” and “destiny” stuff is kinda trashy, but things get better a little later into the book.
There’s not really much for you in this if you’re looking for literature or literary devices. Even the whole “unrequited love/star-crossed lovers” thing is pretty shoddy, and is pretty transparent as a storyline. There’s also a weird, awkward, outputting lack of contractions. While there’s nothing grammatically wrong there, it makes the dialog seem pretty awkward at rimes.
Some storyboarding and research into the writing process would have done wonders for this book, but hindsight is 20/20, I guess. But, in the writers defense, this was his first book, and he’s an accountant, not a writer, so you can’t put too much fault on him for not being super literary.
Biggest criticism is the politics. While the political opinions expressed in MHI are very much contrary to my own, and while I take issue with them on a very deep, very personal level, that is not why I take issue with them in the context of this book. There’s are rants about the “nanny state” and the overreach of government. While I firmly believe that writers have every right to make a story about whatever they want, and they can put whatever politics they want into their work, the self identified libertarian main character is a huge turnoff for me, as is the completely un-nuanced approach used here. There is no discussion, dialog, or anything remotely related here. A character just kinda goes off about how government is bad every now and then, or says something iffy about personal liberties and gun ownership. It’s kinda like reading Ayn Rand, but less subtle, if that’s possible.
That all being said, I actually considered putting this book down, and not picking it back up for entirely ethical reasons. Libertarians are actively destructive to the society that I want to live in, and I don’t really want to give money to people who care enough about those beliefs to put them into their book.
The good – there’s potential, as far as the premise, story, and writing. And the story is self-contained, which is super nice. While there is some setup for a sequel, the story ends at the end of the book. You could finish this book, and skip all the subsequent iterations, and be perfectly satisfied with how things came out.
The story in itself wasn’t terrible. Not great, not awful. I somehow made it through Twilight, and this beat the hell out of that. In the end, I give Monster Hunter International a 3/5 stars. Relatively quick, easy read. Not particularly literary, but entertaining enough.