Monster Hunter International – Larry Correia

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four. For now. I’m waffling on it. Finished waffling: 3 stars.

I’d intended to read this before long, but this was my payment to get someone else to read Dearly, Departed. I heard nothing but raves about it, but wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Whatever that was, this somehow wasn’t it.

I very quickly began to understand some of the raves from friends – the first-person-POV Hero, Owen Zastava Pitt, sounded very much like a couple of them. The main resemblance lay in the fanatical devotion to guns.

Not a devotion I share. Guns don’t kill people … bullets kill people… Poor innocent maligned guns.

I could put aside my lack of interest in guns for a reasonable amount of such content. However …

“…On this one I mounted an adjustable ACE stock, with recoil pad of course, FAL pistol grip, holographic sight system, EOTech in particular, night vision compatible. Full rail system, so you can mountlights or IR illuminators, or as you can see here, a Tula 6G15 40mm grenade launcher, front-loading, single-shot. The barrel has been cut down to twelve inches, modified choke, gave it the Vang comp treatment also so the patterns are good and tight and recoil is softer. I modified the trigger group, so top position is safe, middle is full, bottom is semi. I’ve got the gas adjusted so you are looking at about 700 RPM on full.” He was speaking my language.

All … righty then. He’s not speaking my language. Nor, you know, English. I recognized a couple of words in there … some I recognized but not in that context. And there were big chunks of that sort of thing throughout.

I can’t even tally the number of complaints I’ve read (or written, in one case) in reviews about the expenditure of words on clothing – or, in the very specific case of Tolkien, trees. I continue to be startled by the sheer viciousness of some of the complaints about how stupid and boring Tolkien is because he describes trees. I’m going to try not to be quite so vicious as I complain about Larry Correia’s gun fetish. It does, of course, make sense in context (just as the pastoral descriptions in Tolkien make sense in context): Owen was brought up using weapons of all sorts, and now lives and works among people whose lives depend on how creatively they can kill something. Guns are integral to the plot. I get that. But for the first time I empathize with people who are bored by Tolkien’s trees: my God it’s stultifying to suddenly find oneself awash in triggers and gauges and sights and maker names I’ve never heard of. The only gun I ever want to see or hear described again is Vera.

Otherwise … it was a fast read (partly because my eyes skimmed over large chunks of “OMG GunZ!” text). It was fun. Sometimes: there’s one apocalyptic scene which is in no way fun. But it’s reversed almost immediately, so that’s all right. Except it’s not.It was funny, sometimes. It broke with some stereotypes (intellectually I like what Correia did with Elves and Orcs; viscerally, I hate at least half of it), but hewed to some closer than I’ve ever seen: the week during which this book mostly takes place makes Harry Dresden’s average case look like a Waikiki vacation. I saw Owen’s place in the overall picture coming chapters and chapters before the Big Reveal. The Big Bad was evil for the sake of being evil (“I can rule the world! So what if it’s destroyed, it’ll be mine!”) – although the Good Guys were honest about being in it mostly for the money. It was fairly predictable (“Natchy Bottom is the worst place evar, avoid it at all costs!” … “We have to go to Natchy Bottom”); there’s a lot of telling-not-showing (Owen gets himself reduced to a bloody pulp yet again, and mentions that it hurt); characterization was a bit shallow in places (“I love my boyfriend! But I love you more, and he’s not here anyway”) … but it was entertaining.

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