Oct 4, 2012

Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter, by Marcus MacGregor

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: Teen+
Issues of Violence: action violence, animal violence
Intimacy Level: mild attraction
Swearing: none
Recommendation: yes, 4 out of 5 stars (see end of entry)

Wade Boss is a man with rare talent, able to train tigers and control bears in a wrestling match. His animal training business is well-known in the Hollywood world of acting. Perhaps this is why he's the first one called when a stray tiger is found in an old lady's garage. When Wade arrives on the scene with a tranquilizer gun, he's met with a new world that makes an escaped tiger look as tame as a puppy.

Hybrid beasts. Escaped, but none of the good guys know from where. Wade Boss, with a heart to help the hurting and a history of being good with animals, finds himself in a bind as an on-call hunter by a secret society.

Initial Reaction: *****
I was skeptically interested in this novel when it arrived on my doorstep--a generously given signed copy from the author, Marcus MacGregor. The cover was such a crazy mixture of futuristic and cowboy I wasn't sure what to think. I didn't love western novels, but Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter was far from a western. Instead, it carried all the details we love about the western lifestyle: manners, skill with a gun, horseback riding, hunting, fierce bravery, and faithful love, all the while drawing us into current day action.

I was, to my immense surprise and pleasure, drawn in to this novel as if lassoed. It was gradual and took several chapters to fully hook me, but once hooked the book found its way into my purse to be pulled out at sacred spare moments.

Characters: *****
The characters were endearing and believable, though only a few were deep enough to be "main" characters, chiefly Wade Boss. He made very believable choices, especially when thrust into supernatural situations. He falls into "typical Texas gentleman" category, but the author presented this in a new way so it wasn't cliche. 

Plot: *****
As the plot grew, I felt for Boss in more ways than one. It was easy to become frustrated when fate turned him a raw hand. His situations never really had a clear-cut right answer, which made the gamble of his job and safety a hard bet for him to make...and a hard bet to watch. Sometimes, he made choices that were frustrating. I wanted to yell at him to go and communicate a little more, but at the same time I could understand the urgency pushing him onward.

Writing: *****
The writing rests on the winds of 'telling' more than 'showing', which risked pulling me out of the story; however, MacGregor managed to tug me back into Boss's character in the action scenes. Another distraction when reading is the "head-hopping" between characters. Instead of being in Wade Boss's head the whole time, I saw glimpses into almost every side-character and even the fierce animal's minds. On occasion, this was interesting, but often times I wished I was just in one character's eyes.

The novel was clean of swear words, free of inappropriate romance, and the violence was contained in a very appropriate manner. At one point, Boss found himself interested in a blonde who was not his current girlfriend and invited her to an evening of "showing her the city". Even though Wade Boss tried to excuse away his guilt and doubts, it was obvious that he teetered on the line of two-timing. I was disappointed in him because of this, but his own thoughts behind the matter and his actions to clean up his own little mess reminded me that he's a human and he really did want to do the right thing. Though the attraction is charming, it had its stretched moments. Boss's devotion and feelings for the lovely blonde seemed a little too instantaneous a couple of times, but love is blinding, right?

Spiritual Content: *****
On the spiritual front, there was no clear message, but Boss and another character prayed over a meal. I liked the small interaction and focus on God, though I hope to see more intentionality behind this in future books.

The hybrid animals were very convincing. Two animals mixed together came out of the breeding experiment with characteristics from each animal. It was very interesting to see how a hybrid acted around humans--scared or fierce, flee or fight? Which mentality would dominate the hybrid? The snake-mind or the coyote-mind? Either the author did a lot of research or he'd just been around animals a lot, but the character's interaction with beasts, hunting, and animal training all taught me a little about animals that I didn't know. His knowledge saturated the pages and hugely impacted the believability factor.

At first, it was a little hard to believe that, just because Wade Boss was an animal trainer and took out one anomaly on his own, a confidential society would reveal their secrets and rely on him solely for the capture of the escaped anomalies, but after more behind-the-scenes interaction I understood the lack of professionalism in certain areas and it was...refreshing. I liked seeing a "secret society" that didn't have everything squeaky clean, that didn't have the black-coat assassins to call whenever they needed something shut down.

Overall Recommendation:
The book had a fun mixture of modern cowboy and futuristic experimentation. I can honestly say that it was the cleanest, most well-delivered and well-written self-published novel I've read to this day. I love being surprised by good books and I look forward to the continuation of Wade Boss. I recommend it to the intended age-group (teens and up) and highly salute Marcus MacGregor for an excellent debut novel.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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