Release date: December 27, 2016
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
Ever the Hunted started off pretty well – here’s our protagonist, Britta, who is an excellent tracker/hunter, now being forced to hunt down her father’s killer, who also happens to be her crush. She finds him but realizes he is innocent (obviously) and then the hunt for the real killer begins. Now, this premise had a lot of potential, you know, with her moral dilemma of his life for hers. He was a childhood friend and also one she loved, so it is difficult for her to do this, but she will because if she does, she has a chance at life. Unfortunately, the story takes a turn downhill when they meet. Let me start with the how and why.
Firstly, the overall plot/world-building can be summed up in one word – generic. Two kingdoms – one with magic users and the other without (and where it is illegal to be a magic user)? Hmm, I can think Poison Study off the top of my head; Throne of Glass comes a close second. Five elemental magic – Vampire Academy comes to mind, especially because of the Spiriter thing. Also, the pull she feels? So close to the shadowkissed bond in VA. Male love interest who for some reason goes away and breaks her heart? Nearly every angst-y novel ever! Special snowflake heroine who doesn’t know about her powers/was hidden from her heritage? Confusing court politics? No clear demarcation between the two kingdoms yet they know each other on sight? *sigh* Do I need to go on? Basically, while there is nothing overall wrong with the book, the fact that, when you have read so many YA novels, and then you pick up a book that feels like all of them were put in a blender and served to you, it can get annoying really fast.
Britta’s narration doesn’t help either – she knows she has an ability but doesn’t realize until mid-way in the novel that she is a *gasp* Channeller? Also, girl, I got tired of your sniffing Cohen like a bloodhound. If a man has gone days(!) without bathing, he is definitely not smelling good – no matter how much you love him! Also, I didn’t get the bigotry when it came to Malam citizens’ hatred towards the other kingdom – there is no difference mentioned between them (i.e., skin color, hair color, eye color, body shape, whatever) yet they somehow know she has dual heritage? How? Was it just to gain early sympathy for the heroine, or to give her unnecessary insecurity about the relationship with Cohen? And that bond thing – I think it is just setting up for book 2. There is now going to be a love triangle, isn’t it?
Overall, I would say that since this novel is average, I have given it an average rating.
Received a free galley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, via Netgalley.