I finished reading Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia. This book was originally self-published, then picked up by Baen, which seems to be a division of Pocket/Simon & Schuster. Excellent book. I said somewhere, while I was reading this 700+ page monster (in paperback!) that it’s not exactly romance. I really find I have to take that back. It actually really was.
What’s more, while I rarely read books by male authors because I so often find myself disgusted or insulted (and this is probably because I tried to read “classic” SF/F), I found this author delightful. Which may be a strange word to use for a fic that’s got a gun culture following due to lots of weapon specifics (and the author is so good that my eyes didn’t even roll back in my head as I read those), and is just packed with scenes of super violent, gory, monster-slaying action. It’s also well-constructed, really well-written, highly imaginative, and this guy’s got a great sense of humor.
What really endeared the book to me was the portrayal of the first-person protag, Owen Pitts. Yeah, there’s a heroic name for ya. And Owen Pitts is an accountant. He’s a big, awkward, self-described oaf of a man, who doesn’t get a lot of chicks, and, in the absolutely fabulous opening scene of the book, is unhappily working as an office drone for the nightmare boss that most of us have felt we’ve had to put up with at some point. And then he throws the boss out of a window.
But he had a really good reason. Trust me.
The character of Owen is brilliantly done. He’s confident in the skills that he has, but not proud, in the sense that he would brag about them. Because a lot of the things he can do haven’t been doing him much good. His military vet father trained him up to be a great shooter, and Owen loves the hobby, but that’s all it is. He’s a good brawler, and while that earned him some cash in the past as a bouncer and at other things, it seemed to be more bad than good and he’s trying to put all the violent stuff behind him. So he sets about trying to use his brain, and he’s very smart, but then he ends up in the shitty job with the shitty boss from Hell. And all this makes for a character who’s not dark, damaged, and tortured, but sees himself as tends to see himself as sort of socially awkward and oafish, pushed around by life in general.
My Mary Sue warning sirens were going off like anything (not that I’d want to have to call this big guy with all the hardware Mary Sue). He’s got all these skills, and some pretty interesting stuff starts happening to him–this thing was obnoxious wish-fulfillment waiting to happen. But it did not go there.
Instead, the author kept it fully in check. Kept the hero challenged. Let him make bad decisions. Let him fail. Let him want to curl up and die after a hard workout, and have to stand there, trying not to throw up, while talking to the girl he liked. Somehow, as badass as Owen kept becoming, as his importance to the events of the story kept building, he managed to keep both the confidence he needed, an amount of self-doubt and anxiety that made sense, and a humility that made him endearing all the way through.
Probably the most endearing thing for me, though, was the way he thought about his love interest. This guy showed so much respect for his lady that I wanted him to date my daughter–not now when she’s six, but you know. When his ardor for her increased, it was never due to the way her boobs wanted to spill out of the barely there dress she was wearing. It was because of things like courage, competence, brains. (Kind of like “just the way you look tonight” except “just the way you wielded that spear against the undead.”)
Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. This book was a great package, a book outside my usual reading zone that delivered on a lot of levels. Recommended.
Now this is interesting. I carried this paper monster around in my purse for the last few weeks–which really shows my devotion. Since it wasn’t even on Kindle, I figured it wasn’t available in E (plus, we had the paperback in house, so it was easy to pick up). While investigating for this post, I FOUND E! Not only did I find it, I found in cheaper than paperback, in multi-format, and they seem to be DRM-free–at least, I was able make sure the EPUB I downloaded would convert for future unknown device. Everything we want. Plus PayPal option. (Yes, you’ve figured out that even though my husband had already bought the paperback and I’d already read it, I had to buy it again in eformat. Is that wrong?)
The only drawbacks I see are that they play this subscription thing out so that you have to wait until they’re done serializing a book before you can read it as a whole. I don’t even watch TV series that way, so hopefully that’s more a sneak preview thing that comes before the actual release. The other is that they don’t also sell the books in e on other sites–like it’s not in the Kindle store–and I think that’s a big loss of browsing customer sales for their authors. I just stumbled across this because I was looking for info about the author, and that only because I had heard he was an indie-to-contract story. At least now I know that if I’m intrigued by a Baen-published book, I can probably actually buy it instead of going through the library. Yay for that! /tangent