09 June 2011

Killer Unicorns


Diana Peterfreund

4 Stars
Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . . Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one attacks her boyfriend—ruining any chance of him taking her to prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient Cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. However, all is not what it seems at the Cloisters. Outside, unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from bone-covered walls that vibrate with terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

 First Sentence:
"I will never really leave," said the unicorn.

Rampant is a very unique read. I must say, I've never been particularly predisposed towards unicorns, but the ones in this book...well, they definitely held my interest. Because these unicorns are not sparkly, rainbow-farting, sunshine-and-joy forces of good. They are deadly. And the only people able to hunt them are virgin descendants of Alexander the Great (who, by the way, rode a unicorn). So the premise of Rampant was what drew me in, but the protagonist, Astrid, is what kept me devouring the book. Astrid's perspective is refreshing; she's realistic and relatable and not at all eager to go to Italy and learn how to kill unicorns. But her mother is of a different opinion, and so she is shipped off and, along with a band of other girls who have been found eligible, she starts lessons in unicorn-hunting. While I liked how each of the girls were from different countries and backgrounds, I often got confused about their personalities and mixed them up, which was very irritating. I feel like their characters should have been more distinct and developed better.

The girls' encounters with the unicorns were fascinating, suspenseful, and at times, downright terrifying. This book has plenty of action and I really admired how the girls are strong and totally kick-a**. Not all of it was fighting and gore, though; I loved Astrid's relationship with her cousin Phil, as well as her romance with Giovanni. Rampant dealt very well with ethical issues, both in the real world and in the story world. Are all unicorns bad? Should they be preserved instead of killed, seeing as they're an endangered species? What about medicinal uses? In addition to these questions, topics like choice and feminism are also explored.

While the world created in Rampant is fascinating, sometimes the world building felt excessive. There was all this information and history that was being given to us in large loads, and it got to the point where it sometimes became dull.

However, Rampant is still a unique, fascinating read, and I look forward to reading Ascendant.

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