07 June 2010

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

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.

Or not.

Astrid had 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.
Before anything else, I'm glad that my summer reading adventure has set off on a good note.

If you were told that this book is about unicorns, you'd probably roll your eyes and think, "Oh jeez, this has to be good!"  Well, I'll tell you right now: it IS good.  Just strip away all the fluffy, winged unicorns painted in pastel colors that you've been shown since you were born.  Instead, replace the sickening shade of bubble gum pink with a black darker than night.  Instead of straight white teeth, picture fangs like a saber tooth tiger.  Throw away the wings and enlarge the horse-sized creature by ten.  Yeah, think an elephant with a mane and a shorter snout and you'd be getting warm.

What really brought me to read this book was the unique take Diana Peterfreund has on unicorns from the very start.  Enter Astrid Llewellyn and her cooky mother, who absolutely insists that unicorns are real and all these crazy wild animal attacks are signs of the unicorns Reemergence.  And she's sending Astrid to Rome to train to become a hunter--make that, a unicorn hunter.

Astrid is soon saddled with the knowledge that the Cloisters are a shambles and she must remain chaste in order to stay a hunter--hard to do when a cute Italian-speaking boy comes into her life.  Together with her cousin Phillipa aka: Phil, Astrid embarks on the adventure behind the mystery of the history of her line while balancing archery lessons, a crazy electric throne and an irresistible boy.

Astrid is a fun character to read about.

And I noted that Diana Peterfruend does not cloud the story with descriptions on the Italian countryside.  I've noticed that many authors, when placing their characters in foreign countries, absolutely love to spend pages-worth describing the streets, the people's strange faces, the "absolutely breathtaking" countryside.  Diana Peterfreund keeps it real and provides just what is needed and letting the reader's imagination take over from there.  A refreshing change.

If you want a book with butt-kicking fights (unicorn butt-kicking fights), a strong heroine and a delicious romance, "Rampant" has it in the bag.

Book Info:

  • pages - hardcover, 402
  • publisher - HarperTeen
  • genre - urban fantasy
  • sequel - Ascendant
  • rating - 5/5
  • Summer Reading 2010 - #1