Hunt, The (Book)
Written by Tim Lebbon
Published by Avon
The Hunt by Tim Lebbon is a multi-faceted cat and mouse thriller which adds a few twists of the author’s own working. It follows this premise: You are kidnapped and dropped in the woods. Your family is held hostage. You have five men with helicopter support who have paid, handsomely, to hunt you. If you survive 24 hours, your family dies. If the hunt is “successful,” obviously, you die. There is no winning this game, at least not according to The Trail, the nefarious organization that orchestrates each hunt.
The book takes Chris, a normal family man and father; removes him from his suburban UK home; and places him deep in the Welsh wilderness as the prey for this hunt. He encounters a mysterious and deadly woman, Rose, who is neither his ally nor enemy. Rose is the only person who has survived the hunt and gotten away. Framed by The Trail for the murder of her family, she vows to take down the evil syndicate and its brutal leader, Grin.
As the hunting party tracks Chris through the wilderness, Rose uses him as bait in her attempt to hunt The Trail. Meanwhile, Rose teases Chris with the idea that if he helps her bring them down, she can help him save his family before it is too late.
The Hunt starts off very quickly with the action. By page 10, Chris has been informed of his fate, and his family is already gone. It keeps up a breakneck pace through the first third before a new writing style is introduced. The author then takes us into a rotating storyline with three subplots: the hunt from Chris’ point of view, the history of Rose’s past and how she became so deadly, and the hunt from the viewpoint of Rose. When this happens, it slows things down a bit. Rose’s backstory is interesting and lends much to the book, but it definitely interrupts the pacing. As the tale moves towards the ultimate conflict and climax, the breakneck speed picks up, giving the reader a flow of adrenaline, almost feeling like you are the one being chased.
Tim Lebbon is known for a very visual writing style and does not disappoint. The way he paints the landscape of the Welsh countryside leaves you nearly able to feel the mists swirling around you and the smell of mossy earth ever-present. This is definitely a strong point of the novel. The writing isn’t elegant, but it is very cinematic and descriptive of the characters’ surroundings. It makes you realize not only is this man vs. man but also, with the wild Welsh countryside, man vs. nature. This isn’t a horror novel in the traditional “keep you up at night” sense; it is more in the fact of what mankind is willing, and wanting, to do to one another. Humans are the monsters in this tale.
The book definitely has its strengths and weaknesses. Its strength is Lebbon’s ability to draw readers in and immerse them in the story and landscape with both the pacing and description in the prose. The weakness is a poor attempt at a plot twist, which I felt detracted from the story but will make more sense if there is a sequel. Also, you never gain any real emotional attachment for Chris’ family, the hostages, which detracts a bit from emotional involvement in the main character’s purpose. A good ending and strong climax save it from a lower rating, however.
Ultimately this is another man hunting man in the wilderness story, with a few new twists and technology upgrades without any massive overhaul or something to truly set it aside from the rest. If you are looking for a “fun” and quick read, give it a try; but if you are looking for something that will stick with you for a while, look elsewhere.