2 out of 5 stars
Meh. This book was fine. But with blisteringly creative, updated, and badass reboots like The Lunar Chronicles out there, Hunted feels tired.
Beauty and the Beast is a tough story choice for a reboot. It’s been done to death, and never as anything but a Gothic romance with mild peril. For all that it tries, Hunted is more of the same.
Our heroine, Beauty, is basically a knock-off Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses. She lives with her father and two sisters in a little town (it’s a quiet village). She’s ‘different’ (a most peculiar mademoiselle) because she likes to hunt. The family falls on tough times and Beauty is the only one who can keep them fed (try the grey stuff). A local boy (who does not use antlers in all of his decorating) falls for her. But
Feyre Beauty is sure they’re some greater magic waiting for her.
Here’s where Spooner tries to write herself a new path: Beauty’s father goes mad trying to hunt ‘the beast’ in the woods. Beauty sets out to save her dad, ends up captured by said Beast, and vows to avenger her father. The Beast keeps her, more like a pet than a prisoner, because he needs her. Why? To break his spell. And we’re right back in the tale as old as time.
Never once did I feel that Beauty had actual fear of or anger toward Beast. This is always headed toward a Celine Dion/Peabo Bryson duet. The story said Beauty had feelings, so okay, I guess that’s enough to drive the plot. But it’s like piloting a golf cart, when I want a race car. In Spooner’s version, Beauty is bent on revenge after the Beast [SPOILER ALERT, but not really] kills her father. That ups the ante a little, as if to surprise the reader with a slash of real violence, but it doesn’t sell me on vengeance as a theme. Beauty is mild-mannered as ever, but less smart. Emma Watson would pass. I also never felt anything particularly compelling about this Beast.
Present company included, I’m tired of tired re-imaginings in general. For a while it was Twilight ripoffs, then was all Snow White – same storybook feel, same lameness. They tried to make Alice and her Wonderland even more trippy – or worse, like Marissa Meyer’s huge miss with Heartless (after I loved The Lunar Chronicles so much… aaaggghhhh). I’m tired AF of Batman, good God. Spider-Man has possibly just managed to pull itself out of this mire, TYVM to Tom Holland and the sheer joy of Marvel. Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast was lovely – the music, the Emma! – but that is all the world needs of this story for ages to come.
I’m a little anxious about Spooner’s newest reimagined tale: Sherwood. The Robin Hood legend is my all-time favorite, and in this one, it’s a girl. Normally I’d be running to get it, but Hunted has slowed me down.