The Monster Cowboys are back with a 4 Star Effort
Your favorite monster hunting cowboys are back and it takes but a few pages before your mind's eye is covered in monster gore. Zombified humans, zombified bears, zombified trolls, zombified elephants, werewolves, vampires, gnomes, trolls and one nasty necromancer some of the enemies faced in the second installment of this exciting series. Larry Correia continues to take an interesting twist on the well travelled path of the fantasy monsters. Again, he manages to take preconceived notions of mythical creatures and turn them into original and entertaining characters. For example, we learn that the gnomes are not the simple and kindly garden decoration variety. We are introduced to "g-nome", the leader of a particularly violent and grouchy gang of gnomes. This of course is tongue in cheek and hilarity, black eyes and gnome fist sized bruises ensue.
Having personally affronted the 10,000 foot crustacean in the sky, the evil overlord of the "old ones" places a bounty on the head of our favorite hunter, Owen Z. Pitt. The hunter becomes the hunted when a evil, cult leading, maniacal necromancer takes up the hunt. Will Owen Pitt be capture and delivered to the hands (or maybe claws or tentacles) of the old ones? The chase takes us through Mexico, a Mexican prison, a heavy metal concert, the United States, another dimension and ultimately, New Zealand (could be Australia, I can't seem to remember....). All the while, monster are destroyed without mercy.
The characters continue to be very well developed and very colorful. Despite the fact that MHI is filled with a bunch of modern day cowboys, the all have a reasonably well developed back story and motivation. In this installment, we learn more about the FBI counterparts and are get to know Agent Franks more intimately which provides for lots of entertainment.
Larry Correia continues to build an original and entertaining mythology that does not rely heavily on magic. While he does use many of the old standards, he also casts other in different light (orcs can be friendly and helpful and lovers of heavy metals, elves as trailer trash and gnomes and tiny punk gang members). The series continues to entertain without taking itself too serious.
Seriously, someone needs to make these books into movies. I will be the first in line for tickets.
Being the second in the series, Monster Hunter Vendetta falls into the trap of many second efforts. The first quarter of the book is a rehashing of the previous book and the remainder of the book reuses many of the plot elements that made the first book so successful. As a result, the book feels less original. I don't mind this in a second book but I will expect the third book to add some new elements to the story.
While the series is creating it own entertaining and somewhat satirical mythology, it also fails to explain and detail large parts of its own mythology. Often time the answer to the how and where of monsters and their powers is "I don't know". While this fits to the "shoot first, ask questions later" of these "monster westerns", it leaves the geeky reader (I am referring to myself) feeling a bit out of the loop.
Overall, the book is winner and the series continues to be one of the most fun and entertaining series I have read in a very long time.
Again, the narration is top notch. Unlike the first book, it didn't notice a lack of contractions which interfered with my listening pleasure. This may simply be a small change in the writing style or that I unconsciously came to terms with issue. Regardless, the narration is 5 stars. Content Advisories
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest
Sex - 1.5
There are few comments directed toward a former stripper but none of the them are explicit or "adult only". There is one scene in which a woman is being spied on in the shower but the scene is not explicit and there is no description "scenery". Aside from this, there minor love story underlying the book but there is little more than chaste physical contact and a stolen kiss here and there.
Language - 3
My impression in this book was that there was a significant reduction in the use of adult language. While the majority of characters are unafraid to swear as they are blowing the head off the monster there is a marked reduction in the f-word which was a welcome change. Overall, the use of all adult language was moderate.
Violence - 4
While the story continues to focus on the killing of monsters, there was a reduction in the number of monster and human deaths. The death by gun, explosion, impaling etc, continues to be high, it is less gory and less frequent in the second book. The intensity in the story comes from a higher concentration of horror elements of the story.