School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—The human race is almost extinct, replaced by vampirelike monsters. These so-called "people" have superstrength and speed, quickly perish in sunlight, and constantly crave human, or "heper," blood. There are only a few hepers left in captivity, or so they think. In reality, there is at least one living in plain sight: Gene, who conceals his identity by wearing fake fangs, washing constantly to hide his scent, adopting people mannerisms, and hiding his superior intelligence and inferior strength. He lives on the edge, knowing that the smallest mistake could cause him to be torn to pieces by his classmates. Then a Heper Hunt is announced. A few select people will be chosen by lottery to hunt the last hepers; whoever gets the most blood wins. Unlikely as it seems, Gene is chosen for the hunt and is pulled out of his relatively safe existence. The plot is fast paced and gripping, and readers will find themselves quickly turning pages as Gene learns secrets about the government, his fellow hunters, and the remaining hepers, all while struggling for survival. There are some minor inconsistencies. For example, people supposedly have a limited emotional range; however, this idea is belied by relationships and conversation that seem remarkably similar to human society, with popular cliques in the school and traditional family units. Still, strong writing distinguishes The Hunt from the legions of teen dystopian novels and with both a plot twist and a cliff-hanger at the end, readers will be left salivating for the next installment.—Eliza Langhans, Hatfield Public Library, MA
In this terrifying and inventive adventure, Fukuda (Crossing) turns the vampire novel inside out by featuring a protagonist who’s “only human” in a world where bloodthirsty, nocturnal predators reign supreme. Seventeen-year-old Gene is a “heper,” one of a near-extinct breed of humans, forced to maintain an extensive routine (betraying no emotions, avoiding sweating, shunning friendships, etc.) to blend in with his classmates, who would devour him on the spot if they knew the truth. When he’s chosen by lottery to participate in the last great Heper Hunt, his masquerade and very life are at stake. Only unexpected allies, like the beautiful Ashley June and the hepers he’ll be hunting, may give him a chance to survive. The word “vampire” is never used, with the novel’s two races presented as an alternative product of parallel evolution in a blend of science fiction and horror. With an exciting premise fueled by an underlying paranoia, fear of discovery, and social claustrophobia, this thriller lives up to its potential while laying the groundwork for future books. Ages 12–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (May)
From the Publisher
“Runnette does an excellent job of slowly adding layers of emotion and confusion to the character, and his cool delivery of the narration adds to the suspense.” AudioFile Magazine
“The scenario of Andrew Fukuda's ‘The Hunt' is so wildly fantastic (in a good way) that narrator Sean Runnette delivers just what this story needs: a clear, steady voice.” The Los Angeles Times
#1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immort Alyson Noël
With razor-sharp prose, a genius plot, and a searing pace that will have you ripping through the pages, Fukuda creates a dark and savage post-apocalyptic world where humans are nearly extinct and love manages to bloom despite all the odds stacked against it. An exceptional novel--I can't wait for the sequel!
#1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampir Richelle Meade
One of the most brilliant, original books I've read in a very long time. This is the kind of book you'll want to stay up with all night to finish!
New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshad Andrea Cremer
A book that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. The Hunt is both terrifying and sublime, with every page evoking that fragile, yet unyielding thing we call humanity.
VOYA - Johanna Nation-Vallee
Gene lives in constant fear for his life. One slip in his carefully maintained facade and the high school student will be devoured. Gene is a "Heper" among "normal" people: he does not drink blood or sleep hanging from the ceiling. He can go outside in the daylight. Every day he struggles to hide his humanity and deflect attention from himself. When chosen by lottery to join a special "hunt" for the few remaining Hepers, Gene finds himself torn between his instinct for survival and his yearning for true friendship and love. From page one, Fukuda draws the reader into a fast-paced, suspenseful narrative of suspicious coincidences, unanswered questions, and building action. Clearly, there is more to the hunt than meets the eye, but the reader is as much in the dark as Gene. As The Hunt is to be the first installment in a series, few of the novel's mysteries are solved by the final chapter; however, readers will enjoy a twist revealed in the concluding paragraphs that likely will lay the groundwork for Fukuda's next book. In addition to fans of vampire fiction, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy survivalist stories, as well as a broader population of students drawn to action and adventure. Boys in particular will enjoy The Hunt and look forward to the next installment in Fukuda's series. Reviewer: Johanna Nation-Vallee
If the world is full of vampires, how do the humans survive? Gene's a heper: one of the disgusting endangered species that sweats, can't see in the dark and don't have fangs. He's lived this long by disguising himself as a real person, never smiling or laughing or napping where he can be seen; gobbling bloody raw meat with his classmates; showing a stoic, expressionless face at all times. Appearing emotionless is trickier than usual when the nation announces a Heper Hunt. Every citizen of the nation will be entered into a lottery, and a lucky few will be selected to hunt the last remaining hepers to the death. When Gene is selected (of course Gene is selected), he's terrified: Training with the other lottery winners at the Heper Institute, he'll have no opportunity to scrub off the sweat, body hair, plaque and other evidence of his vile human nature. If the vampires realize there is a human among them, he'll be torn to pieces before he can blink. Luckily, Gene seems to have an unlikely ally at the Institute: Ashley June, a classmate of his who has secrets of her own. While the worldbuilding is thin and frequently nonsensical, this grotesque and bloody construction of a vampire world will appeal to readers who've been craving gore over romance with their vampires. Perhaps the sequel will bring the illogical parts together. An attempted twist on The Hunger Games. (Paranormal adventure. 13-15)
Read an Excerpt
THERE USED TO be more of us. I’m certain of this. Not enough to fill a sports stadium or even a movie theater, but certainly more than what’s left today. Truth is, I don’t think there’s any of us left. Except me. It’s what happens when you’re a delicacy. When you’re craved. You go extinct.
Eleven years ago, one was discovered in my school. A kindergarten student, on her first day. She was devoured almost immediately. What was she thinking? Maybe the sudden (and it’s always sudden) loneliness at home drove her to school under some misbegotten idea that she’d find companionship. The teacher announced nap time, and the little tyke was left standing alone on the floor clutching her teddy bear as her classmates leaped feetfirst toward the ceiling. At that point, it was over for her. Over. She might as well have taken out her fake fangs and prostrated herself for the inevitable feasting. Her classmates stared down wide-eyed from above: Hello, what have we here? She started to cry, they tell me, bawl her eyes out. The teacher was the first to get to her.
After kindergarten, when you’re free and clear of naps, that’s when you show up at school. Although you can still get caught by surprise. One time, my swimming coach was so enraged by the team’s lethargic performance at a school meet, he forced all of us to take a nap in the changing room. He was only making a point, of course, but that point near did me in. By the way, swimming is fine, but don’t do any other sport if you can help it. Because sweat is a dead giveaway. Sweat is what happens when we get hot; water droplets leak out like a baby drooling. I know, gross. Everyone else remains cool, clean, dry. Me? I’m a leaky faucet. So forget about cross-country, forget about tennis, forget about even competitive chess. But swimming is fine, because it hides the sweat.
That’s just one of the rules. There’re many others, all of them indoctrinated into me by my father from the time I was born. Never smile or laugh or giggle, never cry or get teary-eyed. At all times, carry a bland, stoic expression; the only emotions that ever crack the surface of people’s faces are heper-cravings and romantic-lust, and I am obviously to have nothing to do with either. Never forget to apply butter liberally all over your body when venturing out in the daytime. Because in a world like this, it’s a tough task explaining a sunburn, or even a suntan. So many other rules, enough to fill a notebook, not that I ever felt inclined to write them down. Being caught with a “rulebook” would be just as damning as a sunburn.
Besides, my father reminded me of the rules every day. As the sun was going down, over breakfast, he’d go over a few of the many rules. Like: Don’t make friends; don’t inadvertently fall asleep in class (boring classes and long bus rides were especially dangerous); don’t clear your throat; don’t ace your exams, even though they insult your intelligence; don’t let your good looks get the better of you; no matter how the girls might throw their hearts and bodies at you, never give in to that temptation. Because you must always remember that your looks are a curse, not a blessing. Never forget that. He’d say all this while giving my nails a quick once-over, making sure that they weren’t chipped or scratched. The rules are now so ingrained in me, they’re as unbendable as the rules of nature. I’ve never been tempted to break any of them.
Except one. When I first started taking the horse-drawn school bus, my father forbade me from looking back at him to wave good-bye. Because people never do that. That was a hard rule for me, initially. For the first few nights of school, as I stepped onto the bus, it took everything in me to freeze myself, to not look back and wave good-bye. It was like a reflex, an insuppressible cough. I was just a kid back then, too, which made it doubly hard.
I broke that rule only one time, seven years ago. It was the night after my father staggered into the house, his clothes disheveled as if he’d been in a tussle, his neck punctured. He’d gotten careless, just a momentary lapse, and now he had two clear incisions in his neck. Sweat poured down his face, staining his shirt. You could see he already knew. A frenzied look in his eyes, panic running up his arms as he gripped me tight. “You’re alone now, my son,” he said through clenched teeth, spasms starting to ripple across his chest. Minutes later, when he started to shiver, his face shockingly cold to the touch, he stood up. He rushed out the door into the dawn light. I locked the door as he’d instructed me to do and ran to my room. I stuffed my face into the pillow and screamed and screamed. I knew what he was doing at that very moment: running, as far away from the house before he transformed and the rays of sunlight became like waterfalls of acid burning through his hair, his muscles, his bones, his kidney, lungs, heart.
The next night, as the school bus pulled up in front of my house, steam gushing from the horses’ wide and wet nostrils, I broke the rule. I couldn’t help myself: I turned around as I stepped onto the bus. But by then, it didn’t matter. The driveway was empty in the dark birth of night. My father was not there. Not then or ever again.
My father was right. I became alone that day. We were once a family of four, but that was a long time ago. Then it was just my father and me, and it was enough. I missed my mother and sister, but I was too young to form any real attachments with them. They are vague shapes in my memory. Sometimes, though, even now, I hear the voice of a woman singing and it always catches me off guard. I hear it and I think: Mother had a really pretty voice. My father, though. He missed them terribly. I never saw him cry, not even after we had to burn all the photos and notebooks. But I’d wake up in the middle of the day and find him staring out the unshuttered window, a beam of sunshine plunging down on his heavy face, his broad shoulders shaking.
My father had prepared me to be alone. He knew that day would eventually come, although I think deep down he believed it was he who would be the last one left, not me. He spent years drilling the rules into me so I knew them better than my own self. Even now, as I get ready for school at dusk, that laborious process of washing, filing my nails, shaving my arms and legs (and recently, even a few chest hairs), rubbing ointment (to mask the odor), polishing my fake fangs, I hear his voice in my head, going over the rules.
Like today. Just as I’m slipping on my socks, I hear his voice. The usual warnings: Don’t go to sleepovers; don’t hum or whistle. But then I hear this rule he’d say maybe just once or twice a year. He said it so infrequently, maybe it wasn’t a rule but something else, like a life motto. Never forget who you are. I never knew why my father would say that. Because it’s like saying don’t forget water is wet, the sun is bright, snow is cold. It’s redundant. There’s no way I could ever forget who I am. I’m reminded every moment of every day. Every time I shave my legs or hold in a sneeze or stifle a laugh or pretend to flinch at a slip of stray light, I am reminded of who I am.
A fake person.
Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Fukuda