I enjoyed Monster Hunter Files short stories (see review here) and requested several more in the series from our library. First one up was Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, written by John Ringo using the backstory and characters that Larry Correia created for his Monster Hunter International series.
John Ringo writes well-crafted, fast-paced near future science fiction and fantasy novels, many excellent and a few (Ghost) that are unreadable if you aren’t into smutty violence. He is generous to fault sharing his thoughts about society and politics. The other thing Ringo novels have is bad language, lots and lots of cussing and vulgarities. Grunge has cussing and violence and sociology and it also has a good story with interesting, likable characters.
Our lead character, Chad, has two professors for parents, mom an unrepentant hippy type and dad a womanizer who hunts coeds. Chad dislikes his mother – it is mutual, in fact she hates him – and for spite decides to get a perfect C average, 2.00000, in high school. That is harder than it sounds since you have to know the right answers in order to get half of them wrong. He joins the Marines and dies in the Beirut barracks bombing.
The story picks up when St. Peter asks Chad to forego heaven in favor of a mission on Earth. Chad agrees, wakes up into a shattered, agonizing body, heals in Bethseda and looks for the sign God promised him, 57. The 57 eventually leads him to a zombie outbreak where he meets the Monster Control Bureau (FBI) and MHI (Monster Hunter International, a for-profit eradication company). The story goes on from there, through his training and first many missions.
Grunge has some excellent, funny moments that highlight the dead serious situation that Chad is tasks to resolve. The Old Ones are waking up and causing mischief – think vampires, werewolves, giant blood-sucking spiders, zombies, ghouls etc. and etc. The Fae are not pretty Disney creatures but powerful creatures who do not like humans. The vampires do not sparkle and do not seduce nice young ladies. To quote Chad, if an Old One or Fae got into the world the whole world would scream for decades until there is no one left.
Thus Chad justifies his life. He hunts monsters for a living, plays violin as a hobby, studies languages for two PhDs and is a lounge lizard the rest of the time. He looks at cute coeds the way the rest of us look at spaghetti (or chocolate). He becomes a Catholic but somehow doesn’t quite get the 6th commandment and thinks fornication is a Sunday-Saturday avocation.
Chad makes the novel work. Ringo did a great job on him; he feels like a real person with virtues and failings, odd habits and quirks. Ringo doesn’t spend as much time on the other characters, enough that they too feel like real people, although with less detail.
Now for the less pleasant parts. Chad talks about girls but we do not have sex scenes, more lust scenes. There are a couple blasphemies, F bombs and other vulgarities, lots of violence. Chad talks about his guns, but nowhere near as much or as annoyingly, as Larry Correia did in Monster Hunter International. (I’ve not figured out why, but a lot of science fiction authors bore the heck out of me by describing space ships and lasers in overabundant detail, and it seems we can’t get away from it even with books like this with not a space ship in sight. All I need to know is that 1., it’s a gun; 2., it’s big; and 3., it kills things. I do not care what type and how big it is and what type of ammunition it uses, but apparently a lot of science fiction readers enjoy that stuff. Me, I skim through those sections if the story is good and toss the book if it’s not.)
I recommend Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge if you enjoy fast-paced science fiction-y fantasy or lots of action or a complex character.