They’re Here to Believe You!

AZ Ghostbusters

This weekend, I spent a few hours in the company of the Arizona Ghostbusters, a group of tried and true Ghostbusters fans who make costumed appearances to raise awareness for a variety of charities. Yesterday they made an appearance at the local Bookmans (a buy/sell/trade exchange store) where they chatted with customers and posed for pictures to benefit the Step Out to Fight Diabetes, a walk occurring next month in the Phoenix area.  There was a free raffle that I didn’t win, complete with fabulous Ghostbusters-related prizes (and a few dinner-for-twos thrown in).  Louis Tully and even the Scourge of Carpathia himself both made vocal appearances over the intercom throughout the afternoon. The turnout was amazing. Kids were buzzed on free Stay Puft marshmallows and Slimer Suckers.  People geeked out in their own Ghostbusters gear. What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

"... no human would stack books like this."

"... no human would stack books like this."

MONSTERS! Who ya Gonna Call?

If There’s Somethin’ Strange in Your Neighborhood
Who ya Gonna Call…
If There’s Somethin’ Weird and it Don’t Look Good
Who ya Gonna Call…

…MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL!!

MHI cover

Okay, so it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. That doesn’t change the fact that when it comes to privately organized creature handling, Monster Hunter International (MHI) perfectly compliments the Ghostbusters. While the Ghostbusters focus on spooks, specters, and strange pink mood-ooze, Monster Hunter International focuses on taking care of the more concrete monsters from myth, lore, legend, and fairy tales.

The novel follows the character Owen Zastava Pitt, the most abnormal man in the world whose sole purpose was to fit in as normally as possible. That was, of course, until he shoved his were-boss out a 14th story window and consequently lost his job… and nearly his life. Monster Hunter International is an epic quest of self-discovery as Owen reassesses his life and his purpose, all while doing what he does best: poppin’ a cap in the ass of evil.

This entire novel is over 700 pages of amazingly cinematic action/horror. The first chapter hits the ground running and the marathon doesn’t end until the very last page. Consider the fact that hundreds of undead, a handful of vampires, some gargoyles, a werewolf, and an armadillo were all somehow slaughtered in the making of this novel. And this is just the creature body count! The overall pacing was well done, with a few areas for the reader to breathe, and perhaps put down the book for a meal or bathroom break. To give you an idea of just what level of action to expect, let’s take a look at Owen’s reflection on his first real mission at MHI:

…I had been paralyzed, drowned, beaten, shot with my own gun, partially paralyzed and choked, and I was hungry, tired, and saddened by the loss of some of my favorite guns…

I am going to say this outright: I am not a gun person. I do not “speak" gun. I do not understand how they work. Just being near one makes me uneasy. This book is quite literally LOADED in every sense of the word. However, to the immense credit of the author, Larry Correia, my ignorance did not deter me in the least from reading and understanding the novel. The gun details were extensive (or at least seemed so to me), but not enough to actually pull me out of the story. However, I did sometimes wish such description was given in other areas of the novel. Most of the descriptions of people or places were kept rather basic, forcing the reader to imagine the finer tid-bits.

My only real annoyance with this novel was that the fantasy.. the magical monsters.. was never clearly established to the reader. We are told outright that what we know through pop culture is loosely based in fact, but are never told what references we are safe to assume. The characters themselves sit in the classes and learn about the creatures, but the reader only gets snippets of these lessons. This means the reader has to trust the not-so-magical human characters in order to fully immerse into the fantasy element. I played along with this trust and it got me through for awhile, but at one point, when a particular vampire turned to fog (something that went against the lessons) the characters doubted what they thought to be true. If I have to trust the characters knowledge, they better not doubt it themselves. At that point, I didn’t know who or what to really believe. As it is, since the fantasy was not clearly established, I took this novel to be more focused on the human, non-magical element (hence my claim on the novel being about Owen’s self-discovery) with the fantasy being a compliment or a side means of achieving this self discovery. If this was intended, it achieved its goal.

The plot, especially at first, was simple and straightforward with a few teasers to guide the reader, and it is clearly the intense action scenes that keep the reader going. Of course, as in any good novel, surprises pop up along the way and life for Owen gets complicated fast. This novel is not just about blowing stuff up, although such violence is hard to avoid. I collected many questions along the way, but by the end had all my answers. Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, this novel was quite a good read. Correia masterfully guides the reader through a cinematic style that zooms in on a moment, and then pans out the big picture. This is one novel that would take minimal effort to be made into a feature film, in fact, I’d probably pay to see it.