Monster Hunter International

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Due to my monstrous work schedule my reading has trickled down to lamentable levels. Honestly I was able to read a lot more between patrols in Afghanistan. Due to limited time and overall fatigue from exhausting work days my reading has been focused on lighter, fun, action fare. Currently I’m on a urban fantasy kick and enjoying the hell out of The Dresden Files. Taking a break from Harry Dresden I decided to finally give Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series a read. I have been a fan of his blog for a few months now and I have always wanted to give his books a read. Safe to say Monster Hunter International did not disappoint and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Monster Hunter International is a delicious cheese burger, fries, and extra large shake kind of book. Pure 80s movie action. Badass dudes(and women) carrying heavy weapons blowing the hell out of all manner of evil blood sucking monstrosities. This isn’t some deep thinking character driven SciFi exploring the human condition or layered Fantasy epic focusing on the socio-political dynasties. What you have here is monsters getting their brains splattered across 1,000 pages of ass kicking action.

Synopsis

Owen Pitt is working as an accountant at some generic miserable firm under the oppressive thumb of his useless fat turd of a boss. One unfortunate night stuck working late at the office, Owen finds out that his boss is not only a complete jerk but a monstrous werewolf serial killer planning to make him his next victim. Violent badassery ensues ending with a dead werewolf being tossed out the office window.

After recovering from the fight with his now deceased boss, Owen is visited by some friendly mercenary types. He comes to find out that monsters are real, vampires, ghouls, zombies, elves, trolls, orcs, and everything in between stalk humanity from the shadows and his new friends are members of a private, paramilitary contracting group called Monster Hunter International. Something like Blackwater but they spend their time hunting down beasties from the Monster Manual. Owen of course joins up, does some training, and proceeds to kill a cornucopia of monsters with his new buddies. Throw in a 500 year old evil conquistador, ancient Cthulhu-ish Old Ones, unspeakably evil ancient artifact, ancient artifact, Nazi Vampires, lots and lots of guns, sexy hunter chick, a HIND and you have one fun action novel.

The Good

MHI is a fun read filled with really cool action. The MHI mercenary team is filled with great characters and they go around blowing the shit out of the Monster Manual. Larry Correia is a hardcore roleplaying geek and this novel read like an awesome D20 Modern adventure(anybody besides me like D20 Modern?). Guns blazing, magic flying, supernatural goo exploding everywhere. It also did a great job of capturing the feel of military people, the banter between the characters and a lot of their attitudes really reminded me of the Marines I deployed and trained with.

The Bad

Some reviews point out that Owen is kind of a Gary Stu wish fulfillment character. I can see that, but in this case I don’t feel like it holds the book down at all. MHI and Owen is written for a target audience that wants to hop into the mind of a wise cracking ugly badass that splatters monster brains for a living. In this regard it succeeds beyond a reasonable doubt because if monsters were real I would be sending my resume to MHI right away, they really need a good Corpsman.

Where the book stumbles a bit is in the main plot. Super evil on top of super ancient evil wants to use a ancient evil artifact to destroy the world by opening a gate to Cthulhu land. Nothing new and exciting especially once you come across some chosen one stuff that really takes away from the fun of the book. The real sweet spot of the novel lies in the Monster Hunter team, the banter, and the exploration of strange hidden places filled with all sorts of evil monsters. Once the plot started focusing on saving the world from ancient evil it started to lose a bit of the fun and magic. I would of preferred the books focus remained on smaller monster outbreaks the big plot got in the way of the good stuff.

Final Thoughts

Even with a few flaws MHI was an awesome fun read. If you like action, cheesy 80s B movies, and things getting blown up I highly recommend it. I enjoyed this book and once I get through the rest of the books waiting on my kindle shelf I will gladly return to Owen Pitt and MHI.

Fool Moon(Dresden Files #2)

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Rating 3/5

Harry Dresden is back and doing the supernatural detective wizard thing in Fool Moon, the second book in the Dresden Files series. This time Dresden is caught up investigating a series of grisly murders where the victims are massacred by what seems to be a pack of wolves. Complicating the matters his police officer friend Murphy is being investigated by Internal Affairs, she doesn’t trust him anymore, and a squad of FBI show up to meddle in the investigation. Throw in the mob, a vicious biker gang, some Eco-warriors, and Harry has his hands full.

After really enjoying Storm Front I immediately ordered Fool Moon and started making my way through it. Just like the first novel, this one is fast paced, witty, and a pleasure to read. So far the Dresden books remind me of watching Buffy the Vampire episodes, fun, witty, and filled with a monster of the week plus a continuing arc. The action is fast and brutal, Harry gets his ass kicked up and down Chicago in this one. The highlight scene is when a werewolf beast of epic proportions runs amok through the Chicago PD station. It’s brought back images of the first Terminator movie where Arnold destroys the police station. Imagine that scene but with a giant unstoppable werewolf.

Unfortunately being Butchers second published book, written at the same time as Storm Front I believe, Fool Moon suffers from some annoying imbalances. Harry is insufferable in some chapters, at one point he sees a murder victim, curls up, and starts crying. Nobody does that, let alone a powerful wizard who escaped from his black magician mentor by setting him on fire. Karrin Murphys character is beyond unlikable, she treats Harry like crap throughout the book and has no redeeming qualities. I see the trope Butcher is going for with her and I hope that it gets fixed in future books because right now shes quite atrocious. The main flaw with this book lies in the pacing, too much awesome action. The book is pretty much a long sequence of beatdowns that Harry goes through and by the time I got to the final confrontation I felt worn out and the final fight felt anticlimactic and tiresome.

Even with a few character and pacing issues I really enjoyed this one and decided to continue with the series. Reading different reviews it seems like Butcher hits his stride in book 3, and being 60% done with it I have to agree. Keep on reading, this series pays off.

Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)

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Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.

Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.

No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Above is the Yellow Pages ad put out by Mr. Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only Wizard for hire and star of the Dresden Files, a series of 15(20 planned) books by Jim Butcher detailing his exploits as a crime solving wizard living in Chicago.

In Storm Front, the first book in the series, Dresden gets called in by his police officer friend, an aggressive blonde named Karrin Murphy, to help her solve a series of brutal murders obviously caused by magic. Throw in a vengeful mob boss, sexy Latino reporter, seductive vampire madam, talking skull, a few faeries, a murderous frog demon, and you get a fantastic adventure and a great opening act to the series.

This book has been on my to-read pile for awhile now. A few of my friends with respectable taste in books strongly recommended this series so when I finally started Storm Front I had a lot of expectations for it. Safe to say it did not disappoint, I devoured it right away and ordered its sequel Fool Moon.

The book and setting remind me of playing World of Darkness rpg’s growing up. Urban Chicago where every shadow hides vampires, wizards, and a secret world of the occult and unknown. I would not be surprised if Dresden did not come right out of a Mage: The Ascension game. Storm Front totally scratched my geeky rpg WoD itch. I finally understand why some people love Twilight because Harry Dresden is now my official wish fulfillment fantasy. Who doesn’t want to be a wizard solving crimes, blasting demons with magic, and drinking beer with other supernatural creatures?

So if you are looking for a fun, quick, pulpy, read about a crime solving wizard go ahead and pick up Storm Front and join me in reading the series.