Blood Hunters by Steve Voake
|Blood Hunters by Steve Voake|
|Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley|
|Summary: They're millions of years old and they just found out you're alive -- now they're coming to get you. An excellent choice for reluctant readers.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: April 2009|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
Deep in the Mexican jungle, a group of the world's leading scientists is working with the US government and NASA to explore El Zacatón – the world's deepest sinkhole. Professor William Sims watches the pictures coming from the unmanned submarine. As it reaches the bed at just over 1,200 feet, dark shapes appear on the screens, wriggling and twisting as, one by one, the lights on the submarine go out. When it is brought back to the surface Sims finds a small creature wriggling across the surface of the sub and places it in a specimen jar, taking it back to Bath University without anyone else knowing.
A short time after, Joe McDonald's father is arrested on suspicion of committing murder. Joe turns to Giles, his new best friend, for help and they begin to investigate what really happened. But, savage and unexplained attacks against seemingly random people are happening all across the city. One thing is certain, there's something out there and it's only a matter of time before it comes after Joe and Giles.
This really was a fantastic book, quite unputdownable. It's a little hard to pin down a specific genre; I'd say it is an eco-aware, action suspense thriller. It goes at about 500mph and doesn't stop until the last page – very tight and very well edited. The concept is exciting and believable, scarily believable, but we'll get back to that in a moment.
The first thing that grabbed me about this book was the depth of the characters and the characterisation. Even the most seemingly insignificant cast member has an implied, profound back-story and extremely human motivations. Of course, in the long run, none of the cast is insignificant and all of them play important parts in the weaving of the plot.
It's hard not to love Joe and Giles from the word go, so different, but so in need of each other. I think it must have been difficult to craft this kind of story with protagonists of Joe and Giles' age, and keep it believable, but this is exactly what Voake has achieved. Joe seems very vulnerable but with extremely aggressive tendencies that only surface when he's under threat. Giles is cooler and calmer and a font of knowledge.
All of this is great, but the real kudos has to be reserved for the bad guys – the creatures. I really don't want to tell you too much about them, other than how terrifying I found them. I'm somehow reminded of the nastiest killers in 70s horror movies, not in what they're like but just in how terrifying they are. I guess the hope is we'll see them again, because they really do deserve another outing.
One thing which has slightly puzzled me in reading this book for review is the intended age range. At 247 pages with a slightly large and well spaced out font, very short chapters, it did seem rather short for what's current in young adult market. The content is dark and scary, there's no way of getting around that, making me think this book is slightly subverting the middle grade to young adult age range. I think none of this will matter in the long run; kids see much worse on TV these days. I think though that there's a high possibility that this book could be a good choice for older, reluctant readers – high pace, short and digestible chapters with a fantastic story and great cast of characters. This is definitely worth a go for teens who haven't read in a while.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Hunters by Steve Voake at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Hunters by Steve Voake at Amazon.com.
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