Published in 2009
"I was a tidal wave of feet pounding, a lightning bolt of pumping arms. My blood boiled and my vision dimmed, until all I could see was the outline of the zhi. My prey." (p.62)
Astrid had long learned how to distance herself from her mother due to her mother's obsession with proving the existence of unicorns, and believing in a unicorn hunter legacy.
Astrid's perception of reality is shattered when one night she encounters one of the beasts, and witnesses its attack on another teen. Unlike Astrid, her mother is ecstatic with the turn of events and ships Astrid off to Italy to enroll in a school that specializes in unicorn hunter training.
Once in Italy, Astrid is forced to grapple with the truth that not only do unicorns exist, but that she is indeed descended from one of the greatest unicorn hunters. She is forced to contend with her conflicting feelings of wanting to return to home and a sense of normalcy, and the elation she feels when on a hunt.
Astrid must make a choice as to whether she will accept her destiny, or shun the opportunity that has been presented to her.
This is a coming of age narrative with a twist. Instead of dealing with the usual issues of bullies, exams, and teenage hormones, Astrid must make the almost impossible decision of how she will live the rest of her life.
I thought the author dealt very well with fleshing out Astrid's character and the issues she faces. We are able to gain a descriptive insight into Astrid's thoughts and emotions, as well as see a progression in her maturity. The reader is able to understand the motives and reasoning behind Astrid's decisions.
I also enjoyed the world that the author created. Typically, unicorns are portrayed as creatures of goodness and powerful magic. We know that their weakness is virgin girls. However, in this novel we enter a world where unicorns are bloodthirsty creatures who prey on humans.
There were some parts of the novel that I did not enjoy. For one, I felt that the romance between Astrid and Giovanni was not well developed. Not only do they not have enough interaction, but it seems unrealistic that Giovanni would be interested in someone so young. Lastly, apart from the opportunity of escape that he presents, Giovanni doesn't really seem to have a purpose.
In addition, I felt that the betrayal and experience that Astrid's cousin, Phil, undergoes is out of place in the novel. It seems as if the author was trying to get across a message to young girls, but that it was not well meshed with the story.
Overall, I did like this book. I admired Astrid's strength and the empowerment of all the girls in the story. I also thought that the writing style of the author really grips the reader and pulls them into the action.
♥ ♥ ♥ = really liked it