The Hunt Chronicles: Volume 1 Book Review

The shelves are pretty crowded with zombie books these days, so most authors take pretty major steps to set their stories apart from the pack. That’s a pretty good strategy, and it’s always interesting to see how the genre can get stretched and expanded, but sometimes I just crave a more traditional zombie story, and that’s what The Hunt Chronicles delivers. Well, mostly. There are a couple tweaks to the formula, but nothing too extreme.

The Hunt Chronicles is a first-person novel, told from the perspective of our hero, Christian Hunt. Christian has a sister, Trinity, whom he wants to reunite with, but in order to do so he has to survive through the zombie apocalypse. Right out of the gate, reading the names of these characters, I was concerned that the book was going to take on a heavily religious tone. That’s not a bad thing per se, but it’s not my cup of tea. Besides which, I’ve seen it done poorly so many times in the past that I have a hard time giving it the benefit of the doubt. Thankfully, the religious aspects of the book – the first volume anyway – don’t extend beyond character names.

That out of the way, let’s dive into The Hunt Chronicles, shall we? Christian is a young retired soldier, working through college and living with a fellow veteran, Dave. This is where the novel takes it’s first interesting turn. Rather than making Christian a combat veteran, or even someone with infantry training, the writer made our protagonist a supply clerk. I really liked this, because it instantly undoes the cliche of using retired or active duty soldiers as easy zombie survival characters.

Interestingly, Christian’s roommate was just such an infantryman, but he doesn’t survive past the first act of the story, when the zombie plague is really starting to take off. This functions not only to work against cliche, but also to put our protagonist outside of his comfort zone and take away his biggest asset: his badass roommate.

Of course, Christian isn’t completely hung out to dry. His roommate, after all, was a prepper. He had his bug out bag, a safe full of guns and ammo, and enough MREs to tide our hero over until he got a better handle on his situation. You could call this a bit of a cheat, but I think it works in that it gives Christian an opportunity to get into the proper mindset gradually. Because he’s fortunate enough to have supplies and a means to defend himself, he’s able to survive the initial chaos that takes out the vast majority of the population.

But then, there’s another advantage he has. During the initial outbreak, Christian is bitten by Dave. He puts Dave down and treats the wound, but never succumbs to the zombie pathogen. It turns out, he’s completely immune. This isn’t acted on much in this book, but I get the sense it will become a major plot point in future novels in the series.

I mentioned above that The Hunt Chronicles does mix things up a bit. Christian’s immunity is part of that, but there’s another big twist: not all of the undead are brainless zombies. Some of them are quick, capable of thought and tool use, and extremely deadly. Christian and his future companions refer to them as scabs, and they’re the biggest threat to everyone survival.

The Hunt Chronicles isn’t a perfect book, but it does enough right to make it a fun, engaging read. I don’t care about the characters as much as I might (near the end so many are introduced it’s hard to keep them straight), but they’re serviceable. The plot moves quickly, with constant threats and set piece action scenes to keep you turning the pages. And he gets a German Shepherd, which is a huge plus in my mind.

Grade:
4 zombies heads out of 5

14 Comments

BrickVoid

So do these book reviews mean you’re getting back into the publish schedule again, Dave? I’m also interested to hear more about your daughter’s burn wounds and her time spent recovering from them, if there’s anything you can share, please do! 😀

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Dave

Yes, that’s the plan. I’m going to run the rest of Colony this week and next, and then start back up our normal production the following week.

I’ll likely do a full write-up on my daughter soon. If nothing else, it’ll be within the notes of the first episode after I return.

She’s doing very well, though. Getting ready to start pre-school next week.

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BrickVoid

As for the book itself, it sounds like it has some promising plot points. I do question, though, the use of immunity against the zeds, and smart zeds, two things not normally seen in a zombie story. Does the writer make long passages explaining the reasons for the immunity or is it something glossed over? Just how smart can the zeds in this book get? 😀

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Ballinabricky

I know the infected in The Last Man On Earth/The Omega Man/I Am Legend are usually likened to vampires because of their sensitivity to sunlight, but in all other respects, they seem to act much more like zombies. They are fast, and there are also a few which have retained their intelligence and use it to manipulate the others (they serve as a kind of “queen bee” or “hive mind” for the others. The fact that the protagonist is singularly immune and has a dog almost completes the package (in the movies, he has either developed or is in possession of a cure, but is unable to replicate it or distribute it to the wider world).

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Dave

Oh, good call. This book does share some DNA with I am Legend and the various adaptations made from it. The big difference is that our hero is just one of many survivors, and isn’t on his own for that long. Still, great point. I wish I would have thought of that in my review.

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Dave

It seems like the immunity is going to become a major plot point in future volumes, but in this one it’s addressed minimally. The main character is aware of it, but doesn’t really understand what it means. He does, however, assume that others will be immune too. There’s also a mention of a vaccine in the book’s opening. I don’t know about how that will work, but it’s not addressed in this volume (the intro seems to be set quite a ways past the end of the book).

As far as smart zombies go, it’s handled well enough. They seem very rare, but also extremely dangerous.

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J.D. Demers

Wow. So, for the first time I googled my book :). Found this review. The answers do not come in Awakening. The second book (Revelation – released last year) answers much of where the virus comes from and how it affects both corpses and the living. As far as the “dog” aspect goes, Boomer is a bred police dog, and while all dogs have the ability to sense the dead, Boomer is better equipped to react to them.

Just a note: Scabs are not dead – They are living people who have been infected with an active virus. Unfortunately, I have seen a few people get this wrong which is a total failure on my part as the author. Much apologies on that.

I do see the similarities with I am Legend, but it was never in my thought process when writing the book. My love of dogs and the fact that many zombie stories irritate me with how people cannot survive with Romero style zombies, along with why zombies do not react to rain, thunder, etc in most stories is what drove me to write this novel. Scabs add a new element of suspense and danger that, frankly, zombies loose after the first week or so of a hypothetical apocalypse.

Thanks for the Review!

J.D. Demers

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Greg

I see how the presence of a dog can help build the character… But… I feel like a dog would not last long in a Zombie story. This could actually be an interesting question to develop but in my opinion a zombie or 2 could easily dispatch a dog.
By the way, we need more dogs in BotD too.

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Dave

I’d love to have a dog in BotD. The problem is that the LEGO dogs aren’t articulated in any way, which makes them quite difficult to use in the story. That’s especially true because I’d want to make the dog a full character who would need to express him/herself.

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Greg

Well you could always use Scooby-Doo… he has an articulated head wth various expressions and 2 different poses! Of course BotD might loose a few points in the credibility department in the process.. but LEGO is all about compromises, you just can’t have it all.

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BrickVoid

With Scooby-Doo being a licensed character and all of the meanings to so many people that comes with him I doubt Dave could use him without a mountain of legal red tape in his way! Plus the fanbase would be rather saddened if Scooby-Doo got infected! 😀 Dave should write to TLG and ask if they can address the problem of dogs not being articulated. It’d be a lot less dramatic than wandering through a legal minefield, but at least it’d be doable! 😀

Mick

I think staying with humans would actually hold a dog back. A dog would probably hear and smell zombies far enough in advance to easily avoid them. And it would be fast enough to escape even fast zombies.

So if a dog went feral, and joined a pack?

There are still problems. What happens when a dog bites a zombie? And would human survivors treat feral dogs as a threat? Or a meal? (Like last season in TWD)

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