Monday, June 4, 2012

The Last Hunter - Descent

The Last Hunter - Descent by Jeremy Robinson
(Book 1 Of The Antarktos Saga)
Breakneck Media, 2010
Print Length: 282 pages
ISBN-13: 9780979692970

I've been told that the entire continent of Antarctica groaned at the moment of my birth. The howl tore across glaciers, over mountains and deep into the ice. Everyone says so. Except for my father; all he heard was Mother's sobs. Not of pain, but of joy, so he says. Other than that, the only verifiable fact about the day I was born is that an iceberg the size of Los Angeles broke free from the ice shelf a few miles off the coast. Again, some would have me believe the fracture took place as I entered the world. But all that really matters, according to my parents, is that I, Solomon Ull Vincent, the first child born on Antarctica-the first and only Antarctican-was born on September 2nd, 1974.

If only someone could have warned me that, upon my return to the continent of my birth thirteen years later, I would be kidnapped, subjected to tortures beyond comprehension and forced to fight...and kill. If only someone had hinted that I'd wind up struggling to survive in a subterranean world full of ancient warriors, strange creatures and supernatural powers.

Had I been warned I might have lived a normal life. The human race might have remained safe. And the fate of the world might not rest on my shoulders. Had I been warned....

This is my story-the tale of Solomon Ull Vincent-The Last Hunter.
My Thoughts:
The Last Hunter - Descent by Jeremy Robinson is the first of a series of three young adult books in the Antarktos Saga. I wanted to read The Last Hunter because I enjoyed Antarktos Rising so much. This is a pre-story to Antarktos Rising. In The Last Hunter - Descent thirteen year old Solomon Ull Vincent has always felt different but never knew if it was based on his intelligence and perfect memory, or if it was due to his birth place - Antarctica. He was born on Antarctica in 1974 when his parents were there on an expedition. Now he is returning to Antarctica. Once there, Solomon is kidnapped and forced into a very different, brutal new way of life.
After the opening, The Last Hunter - Descent is written in the first person, through the perspective of Solomon Ull. Although this is an intense book, it is a quick read. As usual Robinson doesn't include a lot of swearing so the only question would be if the young adult reading it can handle some brutal descriptions and violence.
While I enjoyed this first book quite a bit, it felt short - probably due to being the first part of a series. It certainly was an engrossing fast read while traveling. At this point, while I enjoyed it a lot, I'm unsure if I'll purchase the next two in the series or not since I'm not convinced they are going to enhance the Antarktos Rising universe for me. 
Highly Recommended, but know that it is an YA book and book one in a series of three. I'd probably give it a very highly recommended if all three parts were included in one volume as it just felt short, as is explained by its equivalent to 282 pages in print.

Douglas Mawson tasted blood. The chapped skin of his lower lip peeled up like flakes of shaved coconut. The cold had started the injury, and then it worsened thanks to his habit of chewing the skin from his lip. But he was careful about it, nibbling at the still dying flesh like a preening bird. It was the sneeze that split the lip, tearing it down the middle. The sting cleared his mind, but the blood made him hungry. He looked around, hoping to see something that might take his mind off food, but he saw only white ice and blue sky. opening; Location 153-163
Mertz turned his head slightly. “Saw someone.”
“Saw something?”
“Some-one.” Ridiculous, Mawson thought. They were the first human beings to set foot in this part of the world. So sure was he of that fact that he spoke his mind aloud. “Ridiculous.”
He stepped up to Mertz’s side. “The land is frozen. Not only is there no way a man could live here, there’s nowhere to hide.”
Mertz turned to Mawson. “He wasn’t wearing clothes.”
Mawson frowned. Location 186-198

Ninnis had fallen with most of their food, their tents and warm weather gear. To survive the three hundred fifteen mile journey back to base camp, they couldn't spend one more minute mourning the man. Location 239-240

I scream. I’m too terrified to do anything else. My hands are on my head. I’m pitched forward. My eyes are clenched shut. Every muscle in my body has gone tight, as though clutched in rigor. The monster knocks me back and I spill into a pile of bones and old skin. But I feel no weight on top of me. No gnashing of teeth on my body. The thing has missed its tackle, striking a glancing blow as it passed, but nothing more. Perhaps because I bent down. Perhaps because it can’t see well in the dark. I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m alive. For now. And I don’t want to die. Location 259-271
They think they’re protecting me, but all they’re really doing is making me feel like a freak. Location 287-289

I might be smarter than most adults, but I’m also smart enough to know I have the emotional fortitude of an eight year old. Happens with smart kids, I’ve read. Understanding how awful the world can be is hard for someone without emotional defenses. I should be more concerned with the outcome of the daily ant battles waged on our sidewalk than the starving children in Ethiopia. I stopped watching the news a year ago. The images tended to fuel my imagination, which was not a good thing.  I’m painfully shy, especially around girls. I’m quick to cry, especially if someone is angry with me. And, though no one knows it, I’m afraid of the dark. Not just afraid, I’m terrified of the dark.  It’s not a fear of what might lurk in the shadows, closets or under the bed. I’m afraid of my own thoughts. When my imagination is freed from the coils of intentional thought, it drifts to places far darker than deepest black. The horrors of school, of starving kids on TV, and of my parents’ mortality are passing thoughts by comparison. I sometimes wonder if the dark thoughts are a true reflection of what lies within. Of my soul. Location 386-396
The nice thing about being home-schooled—at least the way my parents do it—is that I pick the subjects. I pick where, when and how I want to learn. Not only do my parents trust that I’ll get a better education this way, they feel most kids would too. Dad calls school a “good citizen factory.” I think my parents were hippies. But I agree with them. The point is, I can sleep until noon if I want. And I’ll get more learning done in an hour than most kids will during a full day of school. I roll over and close my eyes. They reopen a moment later. It’s Saturday. Location 518-528
I see something. Not on TV. In the sun room, which is separated from the living room by a large door with twelve small windows. Something inside the room moved. I swallow hard. Some of the not yet chewed, not yet mushy, cereal scratches my throat. Location 542-544

What I find stuns me. A safe. Behind a painting. It’s so clich√© that I’m shocked I hadn’t thought to check for it before. Location 596-597 
I turn the photo over and find a note. To remember the extraordinary birth of your most unusual son. 9/2/1974 - Merrill
Location 620-622
“Merrill Clark lives here. His family is joining us.”
Mom and Dad exit the car as a man steps out of the front door. I can’t see his face because Mom is already hugging him. Dad shakes his hand next. I’m in the front seat now, shaking with excitement and fear. For other New England kids, this would be like meeting Larry Bird or Wade Boggs. I’m going to be spending the next few weeks with my hero. And I’m desperate to make a good impression. Should I quote him? Should I tell him my theories on ancient Antarctican civilizations? Should I ask him to sign my copy of Antarktos? I decide, push the car door open Location 718-727

I turn back to the girl, seeing her for who she is. The dark skin. The blond hair. And her eyes.
“Mirabelle Clark,” I say.
“Solomon Vincent,” she says. “But I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to say our own names, not each other's.”
Location 747-750
“Let’s get a move on, Sol. I’ll keep quiet about your memories if you keep quiet about those cookies in your pocket. Otherwise we’ll have a riot on our hands.”
I smile as I follow her to the door. For the first time in a very long time, I’ve made a friend. And it’s not Merrill,
whom I admire so much, or Mirabelle, who is age appropriate and beautiful, it’s Aimee Clark, who is not only the first person I met upon entering the world, but is also the nicest. I make a mental note to be far away from her when I step off the plane and onto Antarctica. If I get violent, I don’t want her anywhere near me. Location 885-892
“You are the modern equivalent of what I’ve spent most of my career searching for.”
“An Antarctican.”
He nods.
“That doesn’t make me special. If anything it makes me stranger than I already am.”
“Strange, my boy, is a good thing,” he says. And I can tell he’s not joking. “We live in a world of mediocrity, of settling for society’s norms. Anything outside of that is deemed strange. If you’re smart. If you’re creative. If you simply just want something different for your life. Of course, you’re all three of those, aren’t you?”
“So, I’m stranger than most?” Location 1016-1026

“My parents kept this from me my whole life. Why are you telling me now?”
“To prepare you.”
“For what?”
“In case it happens again.” Location 1132-1137

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