Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Reasons for reading: I knew as soon as I read the review and ordered it for the library that I had to read about this unicorn hunter!; Young Adult Challenge
Description: "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."
" "I WILL NEVER REALLY LEAVE," said the unicorn. Diamond sparkles floated from the tip of its glittering silver horn. "I will always live in your heart."
I swallowed the bile rising in my throat and forced myself to continue reading."
My thoughts: This was a cool book! The reviews contain lots of apt comparisons to eternally-fabulous Buffy and it made a nice change from vampires and zombies. Some of the best parts are the ones like the first lines, where the fairytale version of unicorns is contrasted against the man-eating beasts of "reality" - there are even various species of unicorn, who knew? I really liked Astrid, she comes across as very sardonic and not too sure of herself and she blossoms (rather against her will at first) into Astrid the Warrior.
I confess I got a bit confused about the history of the battles between hunters and unicorns, but that was pretty minor and my fault for not paying enough attention. And Astrid is confused at first, too, so I wasn't the only one! There is nothing fluffy about this book - there's a lot of violence and gore and some pretty bad people. Astrid's mother is horrific, first weird and unsympathetic, then actively cruel, then completely useless. That probably took away a quarter star for me - I could have forgiven her the first two if she'd come through in the end, but she didn't in a major way. But even with that (and hey, Buffy's mom was often a raging bitch, too), there's a good dose of female cameraderie and girl power in this book. And even though the girls have to be virgins to be hunters, there's a fair bit of lust, too!
The verdict: I passed the book on to a colleague and all I had to say was "Killer unicorns." and she was completed excited! It just might be the best hook for a book ever!