Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: Ever the Hunted, or, The One Where Not Bathing is Still Sexy

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Pages: 392
Publisher: HMH
Release Date: December 27th, 2016
Cover Comments: I LOVE this cover. Beautiful font and design with a nod to the content with the bow and arrow.

First Lines: "To survive these woods, a man must be strong as the trees, Papa had said."

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

"If I were ever the hunted, you would find me."

Ever the Hunted felt like a mixture of several different stories I've seen and read, and while this sometimes led to a unique and intriguing blend, most often I felt like I'd been here, done that. The main character is reminiscent of Katniss from the Hunger Games, while her love interest reminded me of Gale. Bordering countries who are enemies because of disagreements over magic actually occured in the book I read before and after this one (Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst and Frostblood by Elly Blake). New trend? The magic system was different, I'll give it that, but almost random in the types of abilities that come together.

The issue of falling into fantasy tropes is not my main problem with Ever the Hunted, though. If I'm invested in the characters, the novel can be as tropey as you please. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with our main characters, Britta and Cohen. Britta, as we know from the beginning of the novel, recently lost her father. But she spends much more brainspace on Cohen and his somehow always pleasant scent (after spending three weeks in the forest without bathing? I don't think so) than her recently deceased father. I found this a little odd and I think some opportunities were missed for introspective moments on the way we may perceive someone who has died differently than the idea we had of them when they were living. Sort of a Harry Potter learns about Dumbledore's past type of insight.

Another thing I found unlikely was that Britta never suspects that she might have magical powers. Trust me, that's not a spoiler. I knew from the first chapter, but it takes Britta 3/4 of the book to even raise the question to herself, and only after a few pretty striking displays of power. Britta is set up as a wonderful tracker, archer, and handy with a knife, but these skills don't actually help her a lot, which I was disappointed about. She has all the tools of being a kick-ass heroine, but Cohen is the one who does most of the saving. *cue Cinderella by the Cheetah Girls pls*

After struggling with a lack of connection from these characters for most of the book, I did feel it towards the end. It was an emotional part that actually made me feel strong rage, which I admit is pretty rare for me. The other element that kicks this book up from a 2 star to a 3 star rating is the fantastic ending. It ties up the necessary storylines from this book, while setting up some really intriguing possibilities for the next one. I still wasn't buying Cohen and Britta's romance by the end, but I felt connected enough to the characters and interested enough in the plot twists, that I'd be happy to pick up the next one in this series.


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