June 03, 2015

Review of Killer of Enemies

I recently read this book:

Killer of Enemies (Killer of Enemies Series)

Amazon's summary is too long to repeat. Here's all you need to know: Lozen the Apache girl hunts monsters for the Ones who survived the Cloud apocalypse to ensure the safety of her family.

I'll let some Goodreads reviewers give the book's strengths and weaknesses.

Marg:First off, I definitely don’t think this is a bad book. There were several things about it that I enjoyed & appreciated. Its strongest aspect by far being the main protagonist, Lozen. Let’s be honest here, YA fiction is filled with some incredibly lame-ass heroines. Not only do many of them tend to be lovesick, boy-crazy, whiny damsels in distress, but they also have the annoying tendency to be…well… stupid. Lozen most certainly breaks that mold. She’s brave, tough, knows how to kick ass, and is impressively smart & resourceful. She’s also observant, levelheaded, and completely devoted to her family. Furthermore, I found her to be very likable with a strong, distinct narrative voice.

Unfortunately, now comes the bad news, and I’m really sad to say that the book’s biggest flaw is its world-building. Without question, it had some creative, original ideas but was overall underdeveloped and very muddled to the point of being confusing & distracting. Along the same line, it seemed as though the author could not make up his mind on what genre to focus on. The world, story, and characters were all a mishmash of sci-fi, magical fantasy, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, neotribalism, etc. As interesting as these bits were on their own, they failed to complement each other and come together in a cohesive way.
Daniel:Let me just pause here and note that despite a pretty strange premise--not mention some concerns about the book not really knowing what it wants to be--Joseph Bruchac seems to do a great job telling a story. It starts at a run, and it never really slows down. And that makes it worth the read. It's fast, it paces well, and it's fun to read.

But it doesn't know what it is. There are mutant monsters, vampires, giant eagles, high tech electronics that are genetically integrated with humans (at least until the Cloud arrives and ends anything electronic), psychic powers, Big Foot, and old Apache myths and prophecies...

Yes. The book is all over the place. I couldn't tell if Bruchac has been watching too many horror movies or if he was trying to channel his inner Larry Correia, but aimed at a younger audience than Monster Hunter International. There's really no cohesive mythology or explanation tying it all together, though, and though there is a plausible explanation each time a new creature or plot twist pops in--whether it's vampires (some plague that escaped) or Big Foot (preexisting human civilization) or psychic powers (they had been repressed during the electronic era)--in the sum, it gives me the impression that Bruchac was winging it, pulling little slips of paper out of hat to figure out what was going to be the next "miniboss" or obstacle.
Readknitread:Reasons why I think you should pass on this book:

Numero Uno--the counting! Lozen apparently can't have a thought about anything without making a list and counting in Spanish. And it isn't as if she speaks Spanish. She just prefers to count in it. The constant repetition of counting makes Lozen's character flat and boring. She could have been a great strong female character but having to make a list for every thought that she had makes her seem weak and ditzy.

--The repetition in this book shows that the author had a template and followed it until the bitter end. Lozen is assigned to kill a monster, Lozen boast about how she is better than any other human being in the world, Lozen has a flashback thought about her father and/or uncle, Lozen uses a story from that memory as the baseline for her plan to kill the monster, Lozen wins. Lozen thinks about her plan to escape with her family. And repeat until you run out of chapters. Don't stray from the template. Wouldn't want to hold the interest of the reader or anything weird like that.

--Pick a genre and stick with it. Don't try to please everyone.Don't try to make a supernatural, mythical, sci-fi, fantasy, Native American folklore, historical fiction, adventure/survival, romance, are-we-alone-in-the universe, futuristic book. Pick a genre! Don't just stick vampires in for one chapter for the sake of it being a YA book so of course we should have vampires that add nothing to the plot except to give Lozen a repetition pattern for being able to kill anything.
I wouldn't be quite this negative, but Killer of Enemies does have flaws. For instance, after Bruchac sets up Haven as an inescapable prison a la Alcatraz, Lozen escapes rather easily. "Mr. Hairy Ally" provides a lot of convenient help--getting her out of at least one trap that would've killed her otherwise. And the story ends with a poorly choreographed slugfest against the one-dimensional villains.

I wasn't interested enough to continue with the series. Indeed, I'm not sure whom this book is for. Maybe younger audiences who are curious about Native cultures and looking for something less sophisticated than The Hunger Games.

Because that's what Killer of Enemies offers. It's a fun romp but ultimately lacking in substance. Rob's rating: 7.5 of 10.

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