Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: The Iron Hunt by Marjorie Liu

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Well, it was bound to happen. I have seen lots of reviewers debate whether or not to review a book they could not finish, and now it's my turn.

I tried to power my way through this book. I really did. But I literally got a headache fighting the urge to chuck it across the room. This book irritated me that much.

I'll try to tell you what "The Iron Hunt" is about-- but frankly, it isn't really coherent enough to say it's about anything. The idea is this: Maxine Kiss is a demon hunter. She is covered in tattoos, from her neck to her feet, that are in fact demons who sleep by day on her skin and come off at night and act as bodyguards of sorts. The little demons on her body, "the boys" as she calls them, are symbiotic little creatures who will die if Maxine dies and therefore strive to keep her alive. During the day the tattoos are an invincible armor but when they come off, Maxine is vulnerable so the "boys" have to protect her from harm. The demons pass from mother to daughter and when Maxine has a daughter that is of age to take on the responsibility, the demons will abandon her in favor of her child.

Maxine has been living with her boyfriend Grant, who runs a homeless shelter, and trying to form something akin to family ties since she has been so isolated her whole life. Two detectives show up wanting to ask Maxine some questions about a private investigator who was killed while trying to find Maxine. She doesn't know anything about the P.I. but while trying to find out what's going on finds a man who may be her grandfather.

Okay, that part of the story is fairly clear. In fact, for the first 80 pages or so, I thought this was going to turn out to be a fairly good book. But after that, it just all fell apart.

Maxine tracks down the guy who might be her grandfather and tries to ask him some questions. But all she gets are a bunch of cryptic answers along the lines of I know it's really important that you know what's going on, but I can't tell you because I made some obscure promise to your great-great-great-great grandmother. Oh, and I can't tell you why I'm way older than I look because it might actually help you understand what's going on.

Then Maxine tries to ask the "boys" what's going on but they won't tell her because they made a promise to some great-great-great-great grandmother that they wouldn't reveal--- I don't know what or why. I know it makes no sense, which is why I wanted to chuck the book. Then Maxine tries to ask the woman who was married to the P.I. what's going on, but she's won't pass on any information because... hell, I don't know the answer to that either. At this point the book is just maddening. Supposedly Maxine's mother and grandmother knew all the mysteries that got the P.I. killed but they didn't want Maxine to know anything either-- for no apparent reason.

This goes on for about 100 pages and every time I thought the story might get moving again it just keeps stalling out. There's some nonsense about a "veil" between our world and the demon world falling and then the zombie queen, "Blood Mama," arranges a meeting with Maxine but doesn't reveal anything either.

But the thing is, it wasn't even the storyline that bothered me the most. What really irritated me was the whole showing and telling aspects of the story. You know how you hear that an author is supposed to show not tell when they write? Well, there's a lot of both that goes on in "The Iron Hunt" and neither side seems to know what the other is doing.

Like a lot of paranormal fiction the story is written in the first person. Maxine tells us how much of a badass she is throughout the story but when it comes time to prove it, she falls short. For a woman who has little demons on her body, Maxine seems uniquely incapable of handling anything unusual that comes her way. When she finds out that her "grandfather" is not entirely human her world falls out from under her. Literally every time something unexpected happens, she all but swoons from the shock. Um, hello.. little demons on your body?

And as far as the little demon tattoos go.... There really wasn't any significance to them either as far as I could tell. It was an interesting plot device that wasn't utilized at all. They had names and descriptions, but didn't do anything during the part of the book I read. I kept waiting for the little guys to do something but as far as I got, it was like Maxine had some really interesting little pets with razor sharp skin. Other than that....nothing.

I got about two-thirds of the way through the book before I had to give it up as a bad job. I just couldn't take anymore. So I don't know if the story ended up offering any explanations that made sense, and frankly, I don't care. I'm just glad to be done with this headache inducing book


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