Sunday, March 17, 2013
I Fell Prey to This Series
With Andrew Fukuda's The Hunt, I found myself bumfuzzled that someone could write a tale of vampires that was whole-heartedly original. Now, with the sequel The Prey, I find myself bowled over that this story could continue with the same powerhouse energy as its predecessor. But it did!
Gene and the others barely made it out of the Heper Institute alive, but they haven't fully survived just yet. As they flow down the river on the boat, groups of vampires follow them in the darkness, sacrificing being caught in the sun just to enjoy the flesh of a real live person. When the attacks start to thin, the group thinks they have won, but the vampires are getting smarter. Where they used to be slaves to their lust for flesh and unable to refocus long enough to plot and plan, these new groups aren't afraid to work together. But the group just has to make it a little longer and they will find the Sanctuary, the place where humans can live free of the vampires.
When they finally make it to the sanctuary, life isn't all flowers and milk and honey. Women's feet are disfigured and any defiant women are branded and punished. Men, however, live like kings! Gene and Sissy are instantly skeptical about the false utopia, but the leaders of the town squash any chances they have of getting answers, and Gene's hopes of finding his father are dashed when he learns of his suicide. But if the Sanctuary is so wonderful, why would his father take his own life? And where do all the supplies come that keep the town living such a plush life? While Gene and Sissy think there is something more sinister going on in the town, the alternative may be something far worse than they are willing to admit.
OK, I am not a night owl. In fact, if I stay up too late, it takes me days to catch up (my age showing through!). But this book? It was so addicting, I was up ALL NIGHT reading this book! I am suffering this morning for it, but darn it, it was worth it! The Prey is so exciting and terrifying you won't be able to stop reading, so pick it up when you have enough time to read the whole thing!
The idea of a false utopia has always intrigued me because the opposite of a utopia should be a dystopia, but it really isn't. The false nature of a utopia is usually so subversive and hidden, it makes it inherently different from a true dystopia where the world has gone to hell in a handbag and isn't afraid to let that shine. In fact, I think these false utopias (think The Giver or Delirium) are almost scarier than a world where you know to expect awful things around every corner and can prepare for them. That is the beauty of the Sanctuary in The Prey. The answers are never clear, and the next step is always a bigger risk than you can imagine. I loved that Sissy and Gene knew the Sanctuary was false, but the other boys couldn't see through the abundant food and pliant ladies. And when Sissy and Gene tried to make decisions of where to go, no choice was the safe one. They were more than caught between a rock and a hard place. They were caught between a swirling vortex to hell and an erupting volcano full of molten lava- and it was ugly!
This story is exciting, fast-paced, and violent. I can easily get my students (usually boys) who are tough to find a book for to read this book. They scoff and claim they "hate reading", but when given this series, they devour it (pun intended!). This is a series that should grace all library and classroom shelves and be pulled out for those difficult readers. You won't even need to sell them this series. Just read the first chapter and they will be hooked!