I listened to the Grimnoir Chronicles and really enjoyed the series. Itching for more, I decided to give Monster Hunter, International a chance. I don't know if I could have been more disappointed. I devoured Mr. Correia's other series, listening every chance I could get - listening to this one feels like a chore. I started it two months ago and am only three quarters finished.
I find Owen, the main character, to be completely unlikable. The unnecessary romantic subplot is almost offensive - Owen is an unrepentant jerk who seems to think he deserves the woman in question, often leading to really uncomfortable scenes. Like Owen hitting on her in the middle of a mission where the other team (including this girl's boyfriend) has gone missing and may be dead. There is a rivalry established, an alpha male fight over "rights" to the girl, that is never really expanded on. We're told that the rival is a total jerk, but Mr. Correia doesn't spend enough time establishing it. We're just to take for granted that the POV character is right - which is hard to do when the audience doesn't find the character likable.
The plot itself is okay, not great. It jumps from spending too much time on nothing to accelerated backstory and forward momentum. There are a few awkward conversations that are clearly meant to fill the reader in on events in the characters' background, but they're poorly executed and feel shoehorned.
The last thing I want to comment on is contractions. Mr. Correia seemed to heavily avoid contractions in this novel. It doesn't sound like a big thing, but - especially for an audiobook - it really drew me out of the story. The next time you're having a conversation with someone, note the use of contractions. In informal speech and writing, people tend towards contractions - these characters don't. It was very distracting, and made the dialogue seem forced and lifeless.
I don't feel like the time spent listening to this book is time that I regret, but it was very much a "once and done" listen for me. The narrative was interesting, but Ellis had a tendency to repeat himself. I was repeatedly given the main character's justifications for various actions several times. This can be helpful in a long novel, if appropriately spaced out, as a reminder to readers of events that may have seemed insignificant or were only briefly mentioned. But there were several instances of repeat information spaced only a chapter or two apart. To me, this feels like filler. Or like the author doesn't trust his audience.
Overall, the story was interesting and I wanted to know how it ended. But I also was able to piece together the mystery and still had about 2 or 3 hours to go before it was officially presented to me as a reader. That made those hours seem pretty hollow, and drained the excitement out of the narrative.
I am a huge fan of Daniels, and honestly picked this book up because I was looking for more of his work. He did a great job, though I admit the narrative didn't give him as much to work with as other performances I've listened to.
Overall, I will make the assumption that the issues that grated on me are just part of Ellis' style. So if you like his previous works, go ahead and pick this up. If you're a newcomer looking to scratch an itch, I would probably recommend that you look elsewhere.
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