Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of haves and have-nots. There were the Ones—people so augmented with technology and genetic enhancements that they were barely human—and there was everyone else who served them.

Then the Cloud came, and everything changed. Tech stopped working. The world plunged back into a new steam age. The Ones’ pets—genetically engineered monsters—turned on them and are now loose on the world.

Lozen was not one of the lucky ones pre-C, but fate has given her a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. She hunts monsters for the Ones who survived the apocalyptic events of the Cloud, which ensures the safety of her kidnapped family. But with every monster she takes down, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun.

As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.

I think I’ve stated before my love of books that feature a Person of Color without being an issue book. So when I saw the amazing cover for Killer of Enemies, I knew I had to read it, even though I’m a little tired of post-apocalyptic/dystopian books. So many of them turn out to be vague copies of one another that they start to blend together in my mind. But Lozen’s voice makes Killer of Enemies stand apart from the rest of the crowd, and that is a very, very good thing.

In Lozen’s Southwest the desert is overrun with genetically modified monsters, the by-product of the Ones creating monsters as a sort of hobby. The Ones were the most important and richest people in the world, heavily modified and augmented. But then an electromagnetic pulse happened, setting the monsters free from their confinements and frying most of the Ones. Those that are left rule over the rest of humanity with fear and highly addictive drugs, and because an enclave of Ones took her family, Lozen must kill these monsters at the Ones whim, her role “The Killer of Enemies”.

It’s a fantastical premise that doesn’t always work. The people are controlled and for the most part imprisoned, but there aren’t any other compounds like Lozen’s that the reader gets to see. Lozen dreams of escape, but it seems strange that none of the other people in the compound do. Either way, the many questions quickly fall to the wayside as Lozen kills monster after monster, each one more fantastical as the last. Lozen is resourceful, partly because of the quasi-psychic abilities she inherited, a throwback to the first Lozen, a woman that helped her tribe through some difficult times.

I really enjoyed this book. Lozen’s heritage informs many of her decisions and her worldview, and although her sarcasm sometimes fell flat the failed jokes just made her seem more real. The over the top battles were fun, and I enjoyed rooting for Lozen. She sometimes got a bit wordy with explanations of her weaponry, as I don’t really care about the nomenclature of her guns, but readers that like their sci-fi a little more technically driven will enjoy the talk of weapons technology.

Killer of Enemies is a good read for readers looking for more post-apocalyptic/dystopian titles or titles featuring People of Color. For those suffering from true post-apocalyptic/dystopian fatigue, Lozen’s voice does offer something different, but that may not be enough to satisfy.

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