Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac. ★★★1/2
Killer of Enemies is a pleasantly entertaining YA book about an Apache heroine who kills monsters.
A mysterious event causes all electronics to stop working, plunging the world into disaster. Prior to the cataclysmic event, the Ones (the elite rulers) had created genetically manipulated pets for themselves. Freed of their electric fences, these monsters are now roaming the earth.
Lozen’s the official monster killer for a walled town run by four insane Ones. Lozen does not occupy this position of her own free will, but the Ones are holding her family hostage. She has to keep killing the ever more dangerous beasts they send her after, all the while plotting for a way to free her family.
At the beginning, I had some trouble with Killer of Enemies due to it’s choppy prose. Either the writing improved, or I got enough into it that it stopped bothering me after a while.
Killer of Enemies doesn’t have a particularly strong plot – this is certainly an action driven novel. The majority of the book is about Lozen out in the field, killing enemies. This was basically an action movie in book form.
Lozen’s Apache heritage was very important to the book as a whole, and it’s what helps make it something beyond a simple action novel. Her heritage is always at the forefront of the story in more ways than one. For instance, Lozen recounts Apache folktales, using them to find tactics to kill the latest monster.
Lozen was a solid lead character. She was fairly restrained in her few interactions with others, but her inner narration is filled with her judgements, memories, and hopes. She was smart, capable, and a complete badass!
However, she was pretty much the only developed character. Since so much of the book is her alone in the wilderness, no other character really has the page time to become anything more than one dimensional.
I liked how romance was not the focus of the story. Killer of Enemies avoided much of the romantic angst that the Young Adult genera seems infected with. There was sort of a romance subplot, but it was very minimal and probably shouldn’t have been included at all. Lozen’s center of attention is her family, and no love interest is going to change that.
Killer of Enemies is on the borderlines of genres. It’s primarily post-apocalyptic and dystopian, but it includes fantasy elements such as Lozen’s ability to read people’s minds and sense when danger is near. However, Killer of Enemies is at risk for introducing too many elements. While I thought most things worked, the vampires felt really out of place (why does every YA book need vampires?). However, the other monsters where very well done.
I’d recommend Killer of Enemies to anyone looking for a fast, action driven story with a unique female lead.