Monster Hunter International is a very long book that earned a bit more of my ire than it perhaps deserved. As an avid reader and a professional writer, I can spot a self-insert character from a mile off and spot a power fantasy even easier. And while this book was written in 2007, perhaps before the commonplace practice of severe media scrutiny, that doesn’t excuse it from quite a few issues. But I also said that it didn’t deserve all my ire, so, let’s get to the positives.
The choreography is great. I know that’s an odd thing to compliment, but I’ve read enough stories where authors have trouble keeping track of where a person is in a living room during a dialogue scene. The fact Larry Correla, the author, could manage to not only keep track of small motions and detailed locations but also created combat scenes where the battle plays out coherently in real time is shockingly good. Really, I think this author—regardless of this book—is quite capable as a storyteller. It’s better written than it has any right to be, and I did finish the whole 700+ pages without losing the story—that’s impressive all by itself. Also, credit due: lethality and monster designs were—if a little cliché and common choices—also excellent. You really get the sense that these monsters could and do kill people in seconds.
Let Me Be Clear Here, I Did Enjoy Some Parts of Monster Hunter International
But, now we come to the major issue with the book—and it’s that the author can’t seem to get himself out of the story. There’s writing what you know, and then there’s making yourself the main character.
Let’s start with the guns. Monster Hunter International is so much a fan of guns that it dislikes saying a generic name for a firearm. Sounds like a cute or quirky feature until you realize that you are going to stare at literal paragraphs of gun specs and models and be expected to either know them already or spend a great deal of time online looking at pictures. I wish I could say you get used to it, but the issue never really fades—permeating all the way through. It’s so gun-happy the relationship between the love interests is partially maintained by their equal admiration for firearms.
And while I’m sure that’s a potential thing for a couple to like to do, it also highlights the other main problem. The protagonist is—and boy does it try to hide it—a Marty Stu. A character that is too special. It starts off as something slowly drip-fed, with little moments of him being cool or smart or special in a logical way, but, by the end of it, you look back and realize that a character that was supposed to be a gun-loving accountant with a fighting streak is a Chosen One. They try to mitigate this by making other characters seem more powerful than he is, but it shines through all the same. Who cares if someone else is super strong when the protagonist turned back time?
Monster Hunter International: You Really Didn’t Need That Tired Plot Point For The Story To Work
And, yeah, it’s a personal gripe more than anything. I’m so sick of Chosen Ones and prophecies in fiction—at least in the classic sense. It’s an overused idea, and this book didn’t need it in the first place.
Because it has a fantastic core concept.
It’s a series about an organization of very Libertarian—bordering on anarchism leaning—men and women who, through horrific experiences, find themselves aware of absurdly deadly creatures that can take a missile to the chest and still get back up, and are tasked with killing them for equally absurd financial rewards. That’s a fun, creative, and pulpy premise. The idea that modern vampire hunters must fill a vampire with more than the ammo capacity of a machine gun just to stun them enough to stake them is amazing.
I’d watch that movie in a heartbeat.
But, wish-fulfillment romance sections, power fantasies that make little sense, and a confusing interjection of more gun terms than any normal person should be expected to understand drag it down into a slightly sluggish mess. I’m not saying it’s not enjoyable—it’s visceral and creative and mostly easy to read, but, if you can’t stand tired clichés, then this book is not for you.
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