There’s an old saying among writers: “never introduce a gun unless you’re going to use it.” In other words, don’t introduce a plot point unless it’s critical to the narrative. Hunt shows that Graham Kenyon has yet to learn this.
The blurb about Hunt would appeal to any lover of science fiction and urban fantasy: an extra-terrestrial pod lands in the remote Australian outback and there’s a race on as the military fumbles its recovery and a deadly infection spreads. Nearby is a resort full of vulnerable guests, two cattle station homesteads and a range of characters converging on the location, completely unawares.
The story moves along at a pace and is engaging enough. Plus, his descriptions of the scenery make you want to visit the outback to experience its characters and vastness for yourself. Kenyon also revels in the characters he brings to life and the details revealed makes you want to care about them. Care enough to have their own novel perhaps.
The problem with Hunt was that there were just too many characters. And they were all implausible. You have the boy with a special gift. There’s his widowed mother who invites a paroled conman and drug dealer to stay with her and her son – after he’s responsible for the destruction of her sister’s home in a hail of bullets. Then there’s the con man himself. He’s purported to be smart, yet is as bumbling as the burglars in the Home Alone movies. The sole Aboriginal character comes straight from a Paul Hogan film and revealing he has a university degree doesn’t change this. His sole purpose seems to be to tell everyone the land is bad, go “walkabout” and be wise. It’s a cliché that does a disservice to Aboriginal Australians.
It’s never made clear what purpose the character of Nate serves at all, and Jill’s backstory neither serves a purpose in the narrative, or is even concluded. Kenyon spends probably 200 of his almost 500 pages labouring over plot points like these, which ultimately don’t contribute to the core story at all. He is clearly a writer with an abundance of great characters and stories desperate for their own life on paper; they just don’t all belong in the same book. With a strict editor and a single themed, chronologically ordered plot, there could be greatness here.
Criticism aside, the tension does ratchet up as the motley crew race the clock and ever more sinister elements to survive and, for that reason, Hunt may be worth reading. But then it stops. Alien parasite problem solved and there’s no further news to be had; no peripheral storylines resolved. Kenyon wants you to care about these people, but it felt as though he reached his page limit and just stopped writing, wrapping up in a couple of very dissatisfying pages. They deserved better. Patricia Cornwell did the same thing for a while and lost this – and many other – regular readers.
After 500 pages the reader deserves more, Mr Kenyon.
Reviewed by Monica Leahy
Rating out of 10: 5
Available from: Amazon
Release Date: May, 2013
RRP: $18.30 or Kindle: $3.06