If you happen to be old to remember the Goosebumps series, you might remember the Give Yourself Goosebumps line where you would choose which action to take, and then turn to the correct page for that choice. Most of these choices resulted in your untimely demise, but at least one, if followed through by correct choices would lead you to an ending in which you survive and vanquish the bad guys. The iHorror books have followed this same format - but with a lot of heavy weapons and cool gear.
The reader, whether yourself or your child is the main character in this book. You are the Hunter. Your job is to protect the daylight world of humanity from the forces of darkness: demons, zombies, werewolves and vampires ( Oh My!). You have at your disposal a selection of vehicles including a suv, and a private jet, which apparently has room to carry your motorbike as well. You are an expert in martial arts ( but be warned Ju Jitsu rarely works with the undead). You also have a vast armory to choose from, selecting weapons appropriate for whatever enemy you face. You won't have to really on clumsy wooden stakes to slay vampires in this book - instead you get a flame thrower to bbq them to a crisp, a gun that shoots bullets made of wooden stakes and a UV grenade that will vapourise any vampires nearby - but has the nasty side effect of blinding humans as well.
This is the third book in this series we have read, and unfortunately it was also the weakest. My sons quite liked the ihorror zombies book, although I wasn't terribly impressed myself. Still it isn't my opinion that counts, and as long as the children enjoyed it, I was happy to keep buying these. It did have a few good twists and plenty of action to keep the children interested. The ihorror demon book was considerably better, and I quite enjoyed references to Japanese folklore as well as the underlying theme that doing the right thing paid off.
There is no character development in these books - after all the - you are the main character. The enemies are not terribly well developed either they are simply evil. It is a very clear cut good vs evil scenario, but at least the other books had some wee twists. This is very much shoot em with wooden bullets or toast them with fame thrower violence no matter which choices you take. Of course most of the choices result in your demise, but if you keep blasting your way through, you'll eventually come out on top.
The problem with this book is that my son rapidly grew bored with shoot and burn tactics. He kept ending up dead, and younger children will often have to start all over from page 1. So I ended up reading the book to him, placing book marks in with each choice so if we ended up dead - we could go back to the last choice which seemed to be working and start from there even so we ended up reading the same pages so many times I could near enough recite them from memory. I ended up bored very quickly. There is no vampire lore or myth here, just one fight after another, my sons both grew bored and couldn't be bothered to listen to the book all the way through. It simply had too many ending and too many times where we had to start over. Even using the book marks we came to the same ending so many times that we knew right away when it said turn page 98 or 99 what our death would be on those pages. I did skim though to find the ending myself and it wasn't terribly exciting.
On the one hand, I feel that one of the reasons for my sons disinterest was the fact that really don't find vampires quite as interesting as zombies or demons. However no effort was made by the author to draw them into this story by creating an aura of fear around the vampires. But having read three of these books, I do feel the story itself was weaker in this one as well. I felt that the book relied on having you turn to the same pages far too many times, and it was this which I felt turned my children off on this book.
My son has surprised me by giving this book 3 stars. He says he does like the pictures, and he likes being able to choose what happens. He likes the weapons and the vehichles as well, and enjoyed the fight scenes the firts few times he read them. He says he would have liked the book better if he found the right pages sooner though. In short - it just dragged on too much with too much repetition. I will say though, considering the fact that the illustrations are simple black and white line drawings, they are fairly good, and the colour illustration on the cover is very good.
Although I didn't like the book at all, I can see some value in the book. For one thing it does encourage you to pay attention and remember what you read, because this will help you avoid a few of the deaths. It is violent, but boys often like violence, and this is in many ways like playing a video game, making choices which affect the way the story develops. I have found children do really enjoy this type of book, which is more active, and involves them directly in the story. This could have been a very good book for boys. But I do wish the author had developed the story a bit more, resulting in something a bit more scary - and had taken out of few of the shoot and burn scenes leading to one too many deaths. I realise this is a tricky balance to get - too few choices and this becomes just an ordinary book, too many and the book loses any meaning as you trudge through the same pages over and over again.
I had planned to give this book 2 stars, but considering my sons rating of it I will go with 3. If you have the patience to keep reading the same pages enough times you may enjoy this more, or even if you enjoy reading out similar fight scenes over and over. It is different, and I feel having a large variety in reading material will encourage children to read more, and we most certainly would have enjoyed this more if we had a bit of luck and found the right ending sooner. But unless you have a specific interest in vampires, I would really recommend choosing iHorror Demon Hunter. If you do choose to read this, I would strongly recommend book marks at every choice as well.
The reading level on this book is fairly low - I would say age 7 + but because of the complexity of keeping track of different pages - I would recommend this for older readers - 9 -12 perhaps, or for parents to share with children - although I have to admit this book turns story time fro a welcome pleasure at the end of the night into a rather tedious chore.