Baen, 2009, 457 pages
Five days after Owen Zastava Pitt pushed his insufferable boss out of a 14th story window, he woke up in the hospital with a scarred face, an unbelievable memory, and a job offer.
It turns out that monsters are real. All the things from myth, legend, and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows. Officially secret, some of them are evil, and some are just hungry. On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living. Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business. And now Owen is their newest recruit.
It's actually a pretty sweet gig, except for one little problem. An ancient entity known as the Cursed One has returned to settle a centuries-old vendetta. Should the Cursed One succeed, it means the end of the world, and MHI is the only thing standing in his way.
With the clock ticking towards Armageddon, Owen finds himself trapped between legions of undead minions, belligerent federal agents, a cryptic ghost who has taken up residence inside his head, and the cursed family of the woman he loves. Business is good.... Welcome to Monster Hunter International.
I really liked Larry Correia's Grimnoir trilogy, but was less enthusiastic about his Monster Hunter International series. A secret agency hunting supernatural creatures? Been there, done that, in many, many books and RPGs. However, I finally got around to this, the first book in the series, and while I still prefer the Grimnoir series, MHI is definitely fun, as long as you are down for lots of gun porn and the author's clumsy political pokes.
There is not a whole lot of plot for a book this size. The namesake organization, Monster Hunter International, is a private company that hunts monsters. What kind of monsters? Everything. Correia is definitely a genre nerd and the MHI world is inhabited by the entire supernatural kitchen sink, most of it nasty and dangerous and all of it somehow kept secret from the mundanes. Imagine White Wolf's World of Darkness (especially in later years, when they completely went off the rails), except where guns will trump supernatural powers more often than not.
The protagonist, Owen Pitt, a former accountant who was also brought up by a crazy survivalist Marine father to be a killing machine, accidentally gets thrown into this world when his fat, incompetent, middle-aged boss werewolfs out and tries to eat him. I know Correia has claimed that Pitt is not an author self-insert, but come on.
Pitt then gets hassled by government Men In Black who explain that monsters are real and he'll be thrown in prison if he ever tells anyone, and then he's recruited by MHI, who unlike the authoritarian, bureaucratic, dumb-ass feds, actually get shit done and save the world and make lots of money in the process thanks to the wonders of the free market.
There is a particular irony here, in that MHI characters spend a lot of time getting on the author's favorite soapbox: the inefficiency and ineptitude of the federal government and how everything is better when motivated by free enterprise. So how exactly does MHI collect fat bounties for killing monsters? Because the bounties are all paid by the federal government. So basically, MHI is a bunch of mercenary contractors sucking at the government teat.
Political consistency is not a big factor in Correia's world.
Eventually, after having some fun with vampires, werewolves, trailer park elves, and a clan of immigrant orcs, we get around to the main plot, in which a 500-year-old conquistador has come back from the grave and is going to end the world by summoning an Elder God. The solution to this, of course, is more and bigger guns. There is actually a tactical nuclear weapon involved. (Does the federal government get any credit for having the firepower needed to actually save the world? Nope.)
Monster Hunter International is a great big cheesy action flick. It's written as if the author could literally see it on the big screen, a big summer blockbuster movie. Owen Pitt, repeatedly described as a huge, ugly, brute, naturally winds up with the hot girl who has been in love with him all along, after his rival is summarily humiliated and banished from the plot. (Come on, Correia...)
MHI is a fun book. It's pure popcorn and there is no depth to it, but it was good enough for me to read more, as I believe this was the author's first book and maybe the development improves in later books. I would still recommend starting with the Grimnoir trilogy, though. Rating: 7/10.
Also by Larry Correia: My reviews of Hard Magic, Spellbound, and Warbound.
My complete list of book reviews.