When reading a series of novels, I believe the third novel is the most important. A pattern is often recognizable after the third repetition. Often times, the second novel repeats the plot elements that made the first one successful. If the third novel repeats those elements, a pattern has been created and I begin to lose interest. If the author creates new storylines, characters and plot elements in the third novel, my interest is all the more piqued.
Monster Hunter Alpha is a shining example of how to write a novel that is batting clean-up. This is of course a personal opinion as some readers may find this to be the least interesting of the books to date. Decide for yourself by reading this series. Seriously. What the heck are you waiting for?
Monster Hunter Alpha takes us off the reservation so to speak. Unlike the first two in the series, this installment tells the story from the perspective of Earl Harbinger, MHI’s own “king of the werewolves”. The story is told with two different plotlines. The first being the present time while the second is from the journal of Earl Harbinger. The present time plotline brings us to the frozen netherland that is Northern Michigan. After the events of the second novel, Earl is approached by his former CO from “Project Unicorn”. There is information that an old nemesis will be there seeking some power artifact. Chaos and mayhem ensue and ancient magic and a fight for power brings forth “werepocalypse” and the ultimate showdown to prove who really is the king of the werewolves.
The second plotline explores Earl’s background and history. We are provided with an in-depth portrait of this character as we learn about the events that shaped him and helped him become the man and hunter that he is.
Everybody Loves Earl
The decision to focus on Earl was an excellent decision by the author. It provides an interlude in the series wherein the reader can learn the background of one the series most fascinating characters. The interweaving of the journal entries and the present storyline was seamless and provided for an enjoyable reading experience.
Several new characters were introduced. Each of the characters is, in one way or another, tied to one of the recurring characters from the first book and at least 3 or 4 of the characters are dealt with in such a way that they can be integrated in future storyline. As the first two books dealt with “the old ones” in some manner, I was hoping the author would introduce some alternate antagonists to keep future plotlines fresh. At the end of the novel we are introduced to characters that Earl feels are the worst monsters of all. It could lead to some interesting future plotlines.
3 or 2.5
In the eyes of some readers, this entry should be consider #2.5 in the Monster Hunter International Series. I would agree that it does feel like a side story within the overall series but I am not personally bothered by it. As it introduces characters that I have to assume will appear in later books, the reader cannot likely skip over this entry.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable story. Personally, I hope the author writes stories from the perspective of some of the other characters. It breaks up the series quite nicely and allows you to explore the MHI world from a different viewpoint. If you think that this is not a recipe for successful novels, I invite you to read books by my favorite author Tana French, who writes each of the books in her series from the perspective of a different character.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 1.5
As in the other novels, the are no sex scene. In this installment there are several instances where sex is discussed in a non graphic manner. There are also several instances where characters have found themselves naked after changing back from a werewolf. There are several instances where there are animalistic urges to mate and some rather chaste kissing.
Language – 3
The author has toned down the language after the first novel. While there are still multiple uses of the f-word, the use of adult language is less overall. This is probably in part due to the fact that Earl sees himself as an old southern gentleman. Regardless, it does keep him from occasionally calling an ancient evil being a damn mother f-er.
Violence – 4
As is usual in the MHI world. Violence plays a central role in the story. Don’t let the 4 fool you. Earl and crew find many exciting and novel ways to kill monsters. Let’s just say that a scene involving a snow cutter is rather bloody and memorable. I gave this a 4 for violence as there violence is not as pervasive as the previous novels and there are lengthy sections of introspection and remembrance. As the story deals almost exclusively with the werewolf and some variants of the werewolf, the descriptions are far more detailed and there are more horror elements than are present in the previous books.