Top critical review
A fun book to read, despite a few issues
Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2016
I have really enjoyed the series thus far, despite the fact that there are some things about this author's writing style that have begun to bother me, about half way through the second book.
The characters Breene creates are unique and engaging, with personalities that are well thought out. Their interactions are fun and entertaining. They argue and disagree often while still learning to trust one another and work together. This is one area where the author excels. The romance between Shanti and Cayman is a little predictable, but at least isn't too distracting.
Warning, very minor spoilers
The main issue I have with the story in Hunted is the main antagonist. He is supposed to be this badass hunter that everyone is afraid of. The problem being, we know little to nothing about him except for the fact that he is supposed to be scary. How do we know he's scary? Well, because everyone in the book is afraid of him for some reason. Including Shanti who is supposedly the best and strongest warrior in all the land. Instead of giving us a reason to be afraid of him, Breene telegraphs his scariness by making everyone act afraid of him.
If you look at the hunter objectively, there seems to be very little reason for the fear he inspires. 1. He's a good Hunter, maybe the best in the world. Okay... I still think Shanti could kick his ass. Or Cayan. Hell, probably Sanders. I'm sorry, just saying he's a Hunter isn't scary. Give me an example, a reason Shanti, the best damn fighter in the land, might be afraid of him. 2. When Shanti first met him, he noticed her bra was the wrong material. Okay, so he's observant, and smart. Still not scary. 3. He has strong sharshers (where did they come from again?) that are nearly as strong as Shanti. This is where it fell apart for me. The rules of magic in this book are too inconsistent. Suddenly using a couple minutes of strong magic is enough to exhaust her, where she could go for hours before (This is a separate gripe of mine, Breene still hasn't defined the rules of magic in her world, and the rules seem to change based on what's convenient in that moment of the story).
I think the problems with the hunter is just one example of this series' major storytelling issue. There is too much happening in this world that has not received an explanation. Another example of this is the idea of gifts and the rules behind this system of magic. We're told that there are different kinds of gifts. Still, I don't understand what is so special about Shantis's gift or how it is supposedly different from others in this world. I know she is more powerful. I know she can influence people around her. But the author has never really clarified how this is different exactly from other gifts. In fact, most gifts seem strikingly similar a fact that is reinforced by Shanti's ability to learn the "tricks" used by other gifted. The reader is left guessing since we are never given a direct explanation about how these gifts work and much of the context we are given is contradictory.
In closing, I really do enjoy this book. I hope you enjoy it as much, and hopefully some of these issues are ironed out as the story progresses.