Monday, February 22, 2016

Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International

I think we've all had the boss we didn't like and got sick of putting up with. Maybe we've even gotten a major ass-chewing that made us wonder if our boss was a werewolf. I don't know of a single person, myself included, that has ever thrown said boss out of a window in order to save our own lives. Well, unless you include Owen Zastava Pitt, protagonist of Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International. Owen is a bad man and a hardcore survivor. An encounter with a boss who tries to eat him is merely his introduction into a shadow world where monsters exist and so do the people who fight them.

I'll be honest here and admit that I've read this book many times and felt like writing about it. I've been a Correia fan since not long after Baen published this and have followed him ever since. If this review comes about a bit fanboyish, well, guilty. That much being said it was this book that my fandom of his work was based on and believe me, he's earned it. If I hadn't been hanging out on the Baen's Bar site and seen it talked about repeatedly I never would have picked it up. That's weird because once I got it I couldn't put it down. It's that good.

The world of MHI is well conceived and executed.  There are monsters. The government knows this. The government has both worked with and banned monster hunting in the past. At the moment, they've just eased off the ban and now Monster Hunters International (the corporation is recruiting) decides to sign on a big, smart, gun geek of an accountant. The story centers around Owen's recruitment, training and early missions.

Owen is discovering a whole new world around him, based in ours. This works well because we learn about Correia's world as Pitt does. There is no need for the vaunted info dump. Correia Heinleins his details in a manner that keeps us all interested and tells us what we need to know. This may honestly work better because Pitt is at the beginning of his career as a Hunter and leans heavily on those around him. He's smart enough to know that he needs help and as he gathers whatever information he can from whatever sources we're learning as well. This is something I struggle with in my own writing and I refer to this book occasionally to try and steal his techniques.

The amount of things that can go wrong on a monster hunting mission are apparently endless and the pace of this book is relentless. Whether it's personal problems between the Hunters, the pursuit of a beautiful woman or actual outright violence there is always something going on. There was no chance to get bored, no time when I suddenly remembered that I needed to get the laundry done. There may have been a time when I showed up late to my ex-wife's mother's house for dinner because I lost track of time reading but I refuse to confirm or deny those accusations. I enjoyed the pot roast that night though.

Correia is a Certified Firearms Instructor and his book reads that way. As a gun owner myself, although not an expert to the level he is, I want to slap some authors for the obvious mistakes they make with firearms. That is not a problem here. Correia knows his stuff and he very obviously enjoys sharing his wealth of knowledge. This is a good thing. I like reading about guns that work like guns actually work. If he jacks with his ammo a bit to make it kill monsters that's good. He mixes monster mythology with firearms reality really well.

Pitt's reactions in the book are pretty much what you would expect from a heterosexual male. I would know, I am one. This has bothered some people who were offended when he noticed how pretty a given character was and actually, GULP, thought about it. This may not be the book for people who are fill with liberal butthurt about men who like women. I will say this though: If this woman was half as hot as she sounds in the book I would have been thinking about it as well. Why? Because that's what straight males do. Julie, the extremely attractive female in question, is also an extremely good shot herself, partial owner of the company and one of it's leaders. She is by no means only her looks as some have alleged but, well, men are men and they notice these things. It makes sense and, given later developments, it needed to be there.

This is the first book in an ongoing series and it sets the scene well. We're introduced to the threat from the past, the threat from the deep past and a bunch of new ones to boot. I don't know how much time Correia spent planning out his entire series while or before writing this book but I'm guessing it was a bunch. There's too much in her that leads to well into what's coming for it to all be happenstance. He did it with malice aforethought and he did it well.

Correia's views of government are fairly apparent as well. The government Hunters, the Monster Control Bureau, are a bunch of overconfident, insufferable pricks out to keep everything under their own jurisdiction. They want to keep the private companies out of the way to do the job. They're well trained to fight human opponents but not to fight monsters. They have more resources and accomplish less with them. That sounds like government to me too. One solution fits all and we can handle everything with no innovation is the standard Washington response to everything.

I do have one complaint about this book: Correia is a big guy, a gun nut and a retired accountant. Pitt is a big guy, a gun nut an accountant and a Hunter. I hate to use the phrase Mary Sue, but uhh... well... umm... Pitt's an ENTERTAINING Mary Sue? Seriously the character is a lot of fun with plenty of complications and everything but yeah. It couldn't be any more obvious. Pitt even uses some techniques used by real life competition shooters. Correia has shot competitively. I struggle to find a different way to put that but there it is. That much being said, this book still kicks ass.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Silver Bullets

Monster Hunter International
Larry Correia
Baen, 2009.

Monster Hunter International  is available for purchase here:

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