Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
416 pg. Harper, 2009.
Jacket Copy: Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns. Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Astrid as always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend - thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom - Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to - perhaps most dangerously of all - her growing attraction to a handsome art student. . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
I'll admit it: when I first read what this book was about, I laughed out loud. Killer unicorns? Killer... unicorns?! No way this could be pulled off, let alone taken seriously! So, even though it had me doubting, the hook definitely, well, hooked me. And let me tell you, if you're skeptical about this book, it will surprise you.
Okay, they were good, but they weren't completely vibrant, leaping-off-the-page brilliant. At times it felt like there were too many of them to keep track of. Some of Astrid's fellow unicorn hunters kind of blended together in my mind. But the ones that matter, especially Astrid, are great. Although one of the most prominent secondary characters, Astrid's cousin Philippa, is kind of irritating. Okay, kind of a lot irritating.
Take a look at the teen section of any bookstore. You'll see MILLIONS of vampire novels. You'll see scores of werewolf novels. "Immortal people" novels, check. Books about people who see auras/ghosts, check. You will not see another killer unicorns book - and I hope it stays that way. Rampant gets a 10 for originality.
This is one of the books I think about constantly. I've had killer unicorn dreams, and I even daydream about them. I've even identified myself as a unicorn hunter when nosy people inquire about my virginity xD That's about as book-obsessed as you can get.
Romances in teen literature can be either done really right, or done really, really wrong. It's kind of one of my sore spots. Rampant's romance is pretty good, as far as they go. There is that "essential wrongness" there, providing lots of sexual tension, so that's good. I hate spark-less romances.
Ah, Rome. Definitely one of the places I have to visit in my lifetime. Diana Peterfreund's writing was very close to bringing it to life. Just an inch away from me being like whoa how'd I get to Rome?! I swear I was just reading in my bedroom!
I wouldn't say this book is super plot-centric... but what is there is pretty fascinating. The history of the unicorns is woven into the plot really well, and I really didn't expect some of the plot twists. So that's good!
As a somewhat overdue virgin myself, I could definitely relate to a lot of the issues in this book. Plus I was also really into unicorns as a kid :)
Someone NEEDS to make this into a movie! My only concern is that it might be kind of a niche market, so it probably won't happen.
The staple of every fantasy book: epic battle scene. What's not to love? Plus there is a sequel, so YAY. It's called Ascendant, and will be released by HarperTeen on September 28th, 2010. One of the things I'm looking forward to in '10!
Total: 90 (A)
Verdict: Arguably my favourite book of 2009. Seriously, go buy it today, or place it at the top of your to-read list.