Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

MonsterHunterInternational_LarryCorreiaThere’s a joke that all horror movies would be over in two minutes if you just made the hero smart and gave him a gun.

Well, Correia gives his likeable hero a gun, but not just any old thing. If you’re going to kill a vampire, why not use a rocket propelled grenade or a flame thrower? In fact, if there were enough monster outbreaks, you might have a government agency. You might also find that agency was willing to outsource some of the monster hunting to private contractors (ala Blackwater). And you can bet they won’t be hunting with pea shooters. They’ll be doing it right, with brains and firepower. Correia, someone who loves guns (used to own a gun shop and shoot competitively in rifle, shotgun, and pistol) and monsters, wrote a story that does just that.

The idea of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International might remind you a bit of X-Files or Men in Black, but it’s neither. However, it is as  good as or better than both. Correia tells the story of Owen Pitt, a big lug of an accountant, who, as he was working late one evening, gets called into the office of his boss. No big deal, right? Except the fat man is naked, transforming into a werewolf, and vows to eat Pitt’s heart. It’s not quite how you want to end your day tallying debits and credits. Pitt almost dies in the encounter, but manages to “live the American dream” and throw his incompetent jerk of a boss from the fourteenth-story window and splatter him on a double-parked Lincoln Navigator below.

Good work for a bean counter. When Pitt finally recovers, he gets an offer he can’t refuse (mostly because of the alluring agent that comes to recruit him), and he joins Monster Hunter International (MHI), the private contractor who sends out special force teams to use any means at their disposal to kill monsters. Unlucikly for Pitt, one of the baddest monsters around is just about to ruin the world forever, and Pitt finds himself in the middle of the fight.

Correia fills the book with enough action for any red-blooded male, a variety of bad mamba jamba monsters, and wonderful characters. There’s romance and heroism (I got a lump in my throat at one part toward the end), but his signature is his humor. I laughed again and again.

Part of that humor stems from the fact that Correia has an ear for good lines. Part stems from his delight in taking common tropes and stereotypes and twisting them. And this is another one of the things that I enjoyed immensely about the book. For example, the team of newbie hunters that Pitt joins is not made up of square-jawed males and females with Navy SEAL backgrounds, although some in the company do have that. Nope, Correia puts together an accountant, librarian, school teacher, and stripper (all people who faced some kind of monster and are ready for payback), and he makes them believable hunters. 

This tongue-in-cheek tweaking is everywhere. There are elves in this book unlike any you have ever seen. But he also makes it personal. Owen is not your typical accountant. Even a number of the minor characters get this treatment. For example, one of the people on the team is a Black guy with Rasta hair. But Correia doesn’t choose from what Correia calls one of the four Hollywood stereotypes. Nope, this guy plays against those types. He isn’t the comic relief, the gangsta, the sports dude, or scary male. He’s his own man, a shy virgin with a good heart. Correia also gives his characters interesting backstories. And one of the delights is discovering them.

I encountered a few minor flaws in the presentation, but these are easily overlooked. Easily. There’s also quite a bit of profanity (and so those who wish to avoid it are forewarned). However, when I turned the last page Friday night, I looked up at Larry who was lying on his bed in our La Quinta hotel room in Denver, his concealed .45 and 9mm guns on the floor beside him, and said, “Wow. WOW.” And then I think I said, “Dude, what a marvelous read” or maybe it was “Oh, great lord of zombie destruction tales do not smite me,” but I’m not sure because I was still thinking about the perfect last line of the perfect last scene of the last chapter.

Now, those exclamations of satisfaction and delight had nothing to do with the guns on the floor, that Larry’s a deadly shot, or that he’s a big 6’3″ Portugese. It has nothing to do with the fact that he and I were on a book tour together. I don’t read books that don’t grab me. End of story. I stopped doing that long ago. I don’t care who wrote them. And I don’t give false praise. False praise irks me to no end and does nobody any good, especially not the receiver. The truth is that Larry’s book was simply too good to put down. It pulled me in with the opening quote and kept delivering the goods until the end. And if you don’t believe me, you read the quote that both inspiried and opens the book and tell me you don’t want to turn the next page.

“You know what the difference between me and you really is? You look out there and see a horde of evil, brain-eating zombines. I look out there and see a target-rich environment.” ~Dillis D. Freeman Jr.

Yeah, it got ya, didn’t it. The ride is waiting folks. Just go on over to Amazon. Correia is going to be a writer to watch.

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