What if you were one of the last people on Earth? Gene is. Gene has lived his whole life amongst vampires. His father had many rules, all of them meant to help Gene survive. Gene has to blend in and avoid notice. He has to wash frequently so he doesn't smell human. He has to be diligent about shaving and he's had to learn the mannerisms of the creatures surrounding him. And Gene is all alone. When the Ruler announces a hunt, the whole of the community is thrown into a whirlwind of activity. The Heper Institute has just a few humans left and everyone is sure this will be the last hunt ever. The hunters will be drawn by random lottery and sent to the Institute for training. After training, they'll be let loose to track and kill the remaining humans. All of Gene's efforts to blend in have been in vain. Gene's number has come up. He's one of the hunters. Now, all eyes will be on him and his father's rules will become more important than ever -- one slip and Gene could be toast.
The Hunt is another wow book. Andrew Fukuda's twist on the current vampire trend makes this one a standout in teen and adult paranormals. There's no explanation as to the rise of the vampires at all. It's simply accepted that this is the reality in which Gene's world exists. It is also the first in a series, so we may learn more about the circumstances that have left humanity this way in future titles.
Gene is a pretty great character. He knows that he's human but he's been so entrenched in this world that he's lost much of his own humanity. There's a conversation that takes place between Gene and his father in which Gene refers to humans as hepers and his father loses it. He tells Gene he must always refer to them as humans when they are together. Of course, this makes things kind of worse for Gene since it's one more thing he must carefully pay attention to: with dad, they're humans, with everyone else, they're hepers.
The Hunt is great on so many levels. It's a story about fitting in. It's a story about families. It's a story about humanity and evils against one another. And it's all wrapped up in an excellently creative futuristic vampire package.
Now, while I did jump into the physical copy about halfway through (I couldn't resist!), I started The Hunt on audio. This one is a Macmillan Audio release and it's read by Sean Runnette. When the story began, Runnette seemed an odd choice: Gene, the narrator, is a teen and Runnette doesn't sound like a teen by any stretch of the imagination. His pacing in reading was also a bit slower than my own preference. It took about five minutes to get used to and then I was so immersed in the story that neither Runnette's voice or pacing bothered me at all. To a more seasoned audio book listener, it probably wouldn't matter, but I'm fairly new to audio books as an alternative, listening to them while I'm out walking in the evenings. I enjoyed Fukuda's book very much and thought Runnette did a wonderful job.