A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: A Review of Brad Stevens’ “The Hunt”

The Hunt is definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing being that it starts off comparatively boring and then when you least expect it, becomes one hell of a page turner. One should never give up on a book because you may find to like or relate to a particular character such as The Hunt’s protagonist, ,Mara Gorki. The beauty about fiction is that you never truly know what is going to happen.

When you first start reading The Hunt you are introduced to Mara, a successful crime novelist who is on her way to take part in an interview with journalist, Catherine Dardenbar in a bar near her home. The reason this comes off as boring is it served no purpose. The interview doesn't even take place there; they end up going back to her house. You can see why it's included because it gives some perspective in the world she lives in, such as she has no choice of clothing: "Mara had been required to wear the uniform since turning eighteen, and still resented doing so seven years later." (1). On the other hand, perhaps the author could've considered having Mara call the journalist to do the interview at her home and then explaining why she wanted Catherine to do this. I found myself reading the first few pages multiple times because I found it difficult to engage with the text.

Ultimately the story evolves into a page turner. Mara gets a letter in the mail stating she must participate in the Hunt, which is a weekly contest in which ten unfortunate females win this lottery of sorts and are forced to avoid being captured by 10 sick-in-the-head men who can legally do what they want to the women physically, in a closed off part of London, for a week. Not advocating violence, but this is where the story becomes interesting because there is finally some action. You don't know how Mara is going to avoid being captured or if she is what she may be forced to do, so suspense builds.

I connected with Mara because I found her similar to me. She likes to keep to herself, enjoys reading books, and spends time with her girlfriend. Now she is essentially a rebel, she sells her books in the United States because the society she lives in prevents her from selling her sometimes controversial crime novels. I find myself to be rebellious, not because I sell novels overseas but I do things that people may not necessarily agree with which is the life she leads being that she is gay and buys books she's not supposed to, both taboo in her society.

The main surprise in the story is Mara and Yuke's (her girlfriend) peculiar physical and mental connection; whenever one is feeling physical or mental pain, the other absorbs it as their own and cures the other (who was originally feeling the pain) of the malady. This is perhaps the weirdest thing I've ever read in a book but it fascinated me. It served to be a feel-good part of the story despite the horror that takes place in the Hunt.

Stevens has created a good storyline but the plot isn't necessarily believable. If we were to go backwards, meaning that all the progress we have made as a society such as the advancement of woman and acceptance of gay marriage, doesn’t quite make sense. There are no signs of that happening. It makes for a good story but the Hunt will never be allowed in society. We have never been quite that barbaric to our own and to think we would suddenly decide to do that would be terrifying for women as well for men whose sisters, daughters and wives could be thrust into a Hunt at any time.

That being said, Stevens does bring a plausible situation to light and that is the media’s ability to influence people's opinions. During the Hunt a girl Mara befriends named Julie, a 21 year old aspiring musician who ends up getting killed by Robert Price, a Hunter. The rules of the Hunt states if the Hunter kills his girl he will be prosecuted by the law. When he is taken to trial, the press defames Julie saying she was a fan of being”rough action” in bed, that her parents are just money hungry, and trying to ruin the Hunt which has kept women “in line” for decades.

All in all, I found The Hunt to be very good. I'm interested in knowing whether it will be turned into a series or not because some questions are unanswered, such as a letter Mara finds during the Hunt that raises questions about the Hunt’s genesis and the government’s role in creating the conditions for the Hunt. The well-known cliché, don't judge a book by its cover (or in this case opening chapter), definitely applies here.

Comments are closed.