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.