Rampant, Diana Peterfreund

Rampant cover
The premise is pretty cool: unicorns are vicious killers which were wiped out several generations ago… but now they seem to be back, attacking people in the modern world. Our heroine joins up with a group of… Slayers, basically, who all have a Great Destiny (blech) to send the unicorns back to extinction.

In the end, I had two favorite things about this book, and neither were the story. The first is the epigraph: “Unicorns are in the world again.” — Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn. Knowing that this book is about brutal, dangerous unicorns turns that hopeful line that I know so well into a threat. It’s quite effectively chilling.

The second was how it deals with sex. Unicorns are drawn to virgins, so the “Slayers” have to be abstinent. But what does that mean for modern girls? How creepy is it for the “Watcher” (a young, inexperienced guy himself) to be in charge of safeguarding their virginity?

I am, however, so over “I’m just an ordinary girl with a Great Destiny, but all I want is to live a normal life!” stories. I’m sure Buffy didn’t do it first (though I’m actually having trouble thinking of predecessors), but it did it best. Until you have something new to say on the subject, find a different trope, please.

I also hate aggressively ordinary protagonists. “I like boys and my friends and hot celebrities, and I think my parents are kind of dumb!” It’s blank-slate Bella syndrome, but it’s been around a hell of a lot longer than Twilight; I think every character in 80s realistic fiction was like this. I hate aggressively ordinary people; why would I want to read about them? Astrid grows out of most of this by the end of the book, but she’d annoyed me so much at the beginning that it was tough for her to win me over.

And finally, the conspiracies and grand plotting seemed sloppy. It felt like a first novel, although it wasn’t. In summary: fun book, but didn’t live up to its clever premise.

Also reviewed at: Strange Horizons, Teen Book Review (yikes, the ARC had an atrocious cover!), and Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

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3 Responses to Rampant, Diana Peterfreund

  1. Pingback: Dystop-a-rama

  2. Sam says:

    Sara, that’s an interesting point. The first one that came to mind was Harry Potter. He’s not necessarily jazzed about having to kill Voldemort, but he’s certainly jazzed to find out that he has special wizard powers.

    But I bet there are more. Can anybody else think of an example?

  3. Sara says:

    Once, JUST once, I’d like to get a protag who’s really, REALLY jazzed about having a Special Destiny.

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