Diana Peterfreund would like to take a moment to kindly rip to shreds everything you previously thought you knew about unicorns. Unicorns are not the fluffy, magical creatures from your childhood storybooks. In actuality, they are vicious, killer beasts whose horns can kill with a single scratch. Oh, and another happy thought? These man eating monsters aren't fiction and they aren't extinct.
These are the facts Astrid Llewelyn has heard from her certifiable mother since birth. Needless to say she's a skeptic. But all that changes when her boyfriend is gored by a rampaging unicorn and Astrid is suddenly shipped off to a convent of sorts in Italy where she will be trained to hunt (and kill) unicorns. Her qualifications? Astrid is descended from a long line of unicorn hunters; women who posses special abilities (like running or archery) which only manifest when they are in the presence of a unicorn, thus turning them into the perfect hunters of these killer beasties. It also doesn't hurt that Astrid is a virgin - much to her teenage chagrin. Female virgins are the only individuals immune to the deadly poison from a unicorn's horn and they also act as a sort of homing device for unicorns. Once again aiding in the Hunt and Kill agenda. But Astrid is a reluctant hunter to say the least. She doesn't feel like it should be her destiny to hunt unicorns like her fanatic mother believes. That is until she meets Giovanni in Rome and unicorns begin to attack her fellow hunters and Astrid discovers she has no choice but to join the fight against the unicorns.
Like many readers, I was eager to pick up Rampant. Come on! Killer unicorns - who would not read it on that premise alone? It's got to be one of the more ingenious concepts I've come across in quite a while. Astrid herself is a likable character although I did have some problems with her fanatical mom, Lillith. In essence she seemed a bit more like a plot tool than anything else. Lillith floats in and out of Astrid's life when convenient and never really acts like a mother figure at all. To be fair, Peterfreund never sets Lillith up as a model guardian - quite the opposite - her unicorn fascination has previously led to unemployment and general population shunning. So her actions are not necessarily out of character, they just didn't sit quite right with me.
In contrast, Astrid's interactions with Giovanni are blindingly real and absolute perfection. If you've read the Secret Society Girl series then you know just how well Peterfreund does relationships and Rampant is no exception. My only complaint? There simply weren't enough scenes between the studious Giovanni and Astrid to satisfy my inner romantic.
Another stumbling block to my enjoyment had to be the book's constant preoccupation with sex. I understand that a large part of Astrid being able to hunt unicorns is due to the fact that she is a virgin, but it was constantly pushed and seemed to be incorporated into every new plot development. After a bit, I felt like all Astrid did was: fight unicorns, wait around convent, talk about sex, fight unicorns, talk about sex, wait around convent, rinse, repeat. Perhaps the reason I was less than impressed with this cycle is simply because there were so many other interesting things that could have been discussed. She's in ROME! And a really cute boy wants to spend time with her! And there are killer unicorns after her! Sheesh. I'll get off my soapbox now and just hope that Ascendant offers more in the way of killer unicorn action and face time with cutie-boy Giovanni.
series reading order:
~ Ascendant (September 2010)
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review and interview
Library Lounge Lizard review
Not Enough Bookshelves review
Presenting Lenore review
Rhiannon Hart review
book source: my local library