I’ve been trying to get into shape for the last three years. I started with boot camp, but had issues with snotty young instructors who have no respect for other people’s knees. So I moved on to a self-designed program at the local gym. It’s not particularly working. But my efforts may at least be slowing my relentless downward spiral into couchpotatodom.
To be honest, I don’t particularly like running on an elliptical treadmill. Or leg-wrestling a pilates ball. I especially dislike lifting a pathetically short stack of metal plates up and down; the pulley system ceased to amuse me ages ago. The one (and perhaps only) thing that keeps me going with the self-torture is audible books.
But not just any audible books. You don’t get into shape listening to Sense and Sensibility or Catcher in the Rye. You need something that gets the adrenaline pumping. A blink-or-you-miss-something kind of book. Or a story so engaging that it takes you away from the stench of sweaty arm pits and gym socks.
So far, I’ve listened to Dean Koontz, Carl Hiaasen, Garth Nix, Suzanne Collins, Steig Larsson, Robert Rankin, and Terry Pratchett, to name a few. I strained and plodded through all 34.5 relentless hours of Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I even panted and grunted to the adventures of Hazel, Bigwig, and Fiver from Richard Adams’ Watership Down. (Yes, a book about bunnies. Leave me alone.)
But the most fun I’ve had working out in the last three years is due to Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters International (MHI).
Picture a southern-fried version of Twilight, where Bella packs a submachine gun and would happily lop off Edward’s head while shouting, “It’s better if we’re not friends.” She’d do the same to Jacob, too, for that matter. With a rebel yell.
Okay, maybe it’s not so much like Twilight.
It’s closer to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Both Harry Dresden and MHI protagonist Owen Zastava Pitt are ridiculously shy with women, but fearless against nasty monsters that are nearly impossible to kill. Both heroes get beat up at least once a chapter, and are somehow ready to do battle the next day (or hour). But where Dresden Files is sometimes over the top, MHI is always over the top.
People who know me and have read the MHI might be surprised that I liked it. Monster Hunters International sometimes reads like a gun catalog. I don’t like guns. I think they’re hard and noisy and they hurt people. The people in MHI collect weapons like other people collect knick knacks. I suspect Owen Zastava Pitt whispers sweet nothings to them when no one is looking.
The thing is, the people at MHI need bad-ass weapons. ’Cause the monsters are even bad-assier. And, to be honest, if vampires and wights and Cthulu monsters decide to take over the world, I hope someone is packing a little heat!
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, MHI is a bit corny. If the movie is made, it will go straight to the drive-in theaters (though I do hope they make it in 3-D). MHI is also cliché-ridden. Owen awoke with a start so many times, I started to wonder what a “start” is and why anyone would want to sleep with one.
But I liked the corniness. The clichés somehow added to the charm. I like the larger than life hero. I liked that he could kill a werewolf with his bare hands, but was bumbling and shy around Julie, the beautiful, gun-strappin’ monster huntin’ heroine. MHI wasn’t written to be great literature. It was written to be fun. And in that respect, it is a success.
Rating: 4 stars (for action-packed fun)*
*For parents, I give this book an R rating for all the chunks of meat and body parts that fly during the many battle scenes. In all other respects, this book gets a G rating.