This is book 2 of a 3-book series. I read all three of these in print before getting the audio version, and while I liked them very well in print, they are even better in audio format. Reader Oliver Wyman nails a wide variety of voices and personalities for everything from subhuman monsters to crusty century-old werewolves and a combat accountant. He does a good job on women's voices, too.
Monsters of all types are real, and outbreaks are quietly suppressed by the various government agencies for multiple nations as well as private contractors. Monster Hunters International is one of those private groups, recruiting constantly to keep up with demand for their services and to offset the inevitable losses of personnel.
One of those recruits is Owen Zasava Pitt, self-described combat accountant. He survived a werewolf attack to be recruited by MHI, and he is the focus of books one and two. He's died several times and gained some psychic and quasi-magical powers in the process. Being a team-member for MHI is a lot more interesting than being a CPA.
In this volume, Owen is the target of a cult that wants to capture him for presentation to the evil Old Ones, thus acquiring favor. The US government agency, Monster Control Bureau, wants the leader of the cult, The Shadow Man, and is using Owen as bait. All of MHI is under threat by the evil cult, and they'll do anything to get to Owen, including attacking his family.
All the favorite characters from the first book are back, including Skippy and his tribe. I won't spoil them for you by trying to describe them, but they are stalwart warriors, and fortunately they're on MHI's side.
MHI has a wide variety of weaponry, and Milo, their own "Q," is constantly inventing new gadgets. It's a good thing, particularly when you find yourself beset by zombie elephants.
The substance of a quote from the book: "Just where do you get dead elephants?" asks Owen. "The Internet," replies The Shadow Man.
In a further complication, Owen has been scratched by a human zombie, and is doomed to die. In an effort to save his family and all of his friends, he sacrifices himself, going willingly into the domain of the Old Ones to satisfy their demands. He marries his true love, Julie, in a quick ceremony conducted by one of Skippy's tribe, but he can't even kiss her goodbye for fear of transmitting the deadly zombie virus. Feeling feverish and shaky, he heads into the underworld, hoping that he can do some damage before he dies...again.
Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta should be read as a single book. Monster Hunter Alpha is more of a stand-alone book in the Monster Hunter universe.
Parts of this were good, but the starting hours were abysmal. There are editing issues, with too many sentences saying repeatedly "he said" or "she said." It's like Dick and Jane writing a novel. At the least, throw in some variety, with the occasional "he stated," or opined or something.
The characters in the micro world were the most interesting part, and I will certainly look differently at insects now.
The plot device of a group of grad students having an expert of every conceivable application on this trip, all of whom were carrying samples of their particular product or project, ahhhhh, that's a stretch. It's like me carrying a chocolate chip cookie in case I meet Martha Stewart. Granted, they did anticipate an interview with the CEO during their tour, but it's still tugging very hard on my logic cells.
The reader was okay. There are many other readers I find to be far better, but this one slogged through the story in an adequate manner. Nobody could have salvaged this turkey.
Both authors were and are capable of writing excellent books, but this wasn't one of them. Perhaps this one would have been substantially different if Crichton had been able to complete it prior to his death.
I wish it were possible to returh audio books that were complete dogs.
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