Review: Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

I bought this just because I liked the cover!

Lozen is a YA novel protagonist – a tough young woman in a post-technological dystopian future, struggling to keep her family safe in a harsh world and with a tendency to recount her adventures in the present tense. But don’t hold that against her. While this novel has the cosmetic trappings of a Hunger Games, it does something far more interesting.

I’ll start again. Lozen kills monsters. It is a role she is well suited for but it is one she has been forced to adopt. Her family are held hostage to ensure her good behaviour, as the mysterious leaders of a group of survivors send her out from the prison/fortified community to despatch genetically modified animals that roam the badlands of what was once the south-west of the USA.

Beyond the gates of her prison, Lozen enjoys a temporary freedom and she exploits her strength, skills, and Apache heritage to despatch giant snakes, monstrous birds and other remnants of exotic experiments. In doing so she draws on folk tales of her people, her own cunning, psychic powers and the occasional help of some supernatural beings.

Framed like the exploits of a legendary hero, the novel draws on the twists and beats of a myriad of folk stories, some of which will be new to a reader and some of which will be familiar. While centred on Native American stories, the book takes in an eclectic mix of other stories from Aesop’s Fables to the labours of Hercules.

At the same time it is great fun – like a Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movie, with a hero who is too busy killing monsters for teenage angst. Good stuff if you want something fast paced.