Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Astrid Llewellyn comes from a long line of the best unicorn hunters. When these venomous man-eating monsters reemerge from supposed extinction, the Cloisters in Rome, the traditional training ground for unicorn hunters, is reopened, and Astrid is sent reluctantly to fulfill her role in protecting humankind.

Rampant is thoroughly researched and plotted. Characterisation is excellent and there's much intrigue. The setting is rich and authentic. Much of the action takes place in Rome and there is a great sense of history and tradition, plus the attractions of gelato, fountains and Italian boys. I thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the little zhi, the house unicorn that is part pet, part training device. She's like a My Little Pony with fangs.

But overall I'm disappointed with Rampant. About halfway through I began to be frustrated by the sudden slowing of pace, Astrid going on dates rather than training for her calling, and her thorough dislike and negativity towards it. Reluctant heroes are interesting and often very relatable, but it got to the point where I felt that if Astrid doesn't care, why should I? The disorganisation of the Cloisters and the lack of training was critical to the story but meant that there was little driving the story forward except for the dates. I didn't buy Rampant to read about dating.

I also don't enjoy it when characters become a mouthpiece for the author's tastes. At one point there is a discussion of a particular sexual act that is neither inherently immoral nor dangerous, but is pronounced so by Astrid. (Pages 144-145.) The reaction, "Gross!", is exactly what you'd expect the characters to think, and it's amusing, but I'm disappointed Peterfreund couldn't just leave it at that.

Rampant was too slow. I had high hopes for it--perhaps too high, and I'm always harder on books that start brilliantly but fail to deliver.


  1. Thanks for another great review. It really is frustrating when books don't deliver at the end. I agree. :)

  2. Funny, I'm about 300 pages into it right now and am having similar feelings. After tearing through the secret society girl series, I'm not as pleased with the slow-mo.

  3. I'm glad this book disappointed you. Not because it means your read a disappointing book, but because I keep reading about all these people loving it for reasons that make me sort-of hate it even though I haven't even read it.
    Unicorns should NOT be venemous and man-eating. They are magical and wonderful! We shouldn't have to have unicorn hunters. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about the premise of this book.
    So even though that's not why you were disappointed, I'm glad that you were.
    And I hope your next read will be AWESOME! :-)

  4. *sighs LOUDLY*

    I have high hopes for this one too. And while I actually love the idea of killer unicorns (sorry Brizmus!), I have a feeling I'll review it similar to you. Dognamnit publishing houses - start publishing the good stuff!

  5. Shannon--That's the goddamn truth!

    Michelle--I've never read the society girl stuff but I hear it's good. I think there was a little to much society in this book and not enough kicking ass.

    Briz--It's a rather unusual premise and I'm not surprised it doesn't sit well with all. I'm willing to entertain subversive takes on fluffy cute creatures in this case. Just could have down with less boy stuff. And my current and last reads (Shadowed Summer, Swoon) is/are AWESOME!

    Aimee--Fingers crossed for 2010. Less vapid heroines and bland love interests, more magic, romance and kicking butt.

  6. I read a few chapters before having to return RAMPANT to the library (because of holds) - I wasn't exactly sorry to see it go, though. On a different note, I thoroughly enjoyed SHADOWED SUMMER; hope you're going to post a review!

  7. I have been wondering whether I should buy this. I really doubt that I will now. I certainly don't read a book to be preached at by the main character. Great honest review.

  8. That's depressing. I kind of want to know what the sex act is though!

    I'm sad to hear you disliked Rampant. I'm still going to give it the old college try, though.

  9. Okay, like April I'm really intrigued to know what 'act' you're referring to. Probably not the point, but hey.

    Since I've got this one at home I'll definitely still give it a go, but I'm inclined to think I'll agree with you. It's always hard to deal with a book not fulfilling a strong opening.

  10. Aw, sorry you didn't like it--it looked like a fun book.

  11. To be honest, I didn't even get past the first few chapters. I wasn't a fan. Thanks for the honest review!

  12. I'm with April, I want to know about the sex. And then I could share it with my dirty, dirty book club, especially if the tone is disapproving. They would find that hilarious.
    Part of me still wants to read this, but if I do, it will definitely be borrowed, not bought.

  13. I had a hard time with this one too. I found myself getting distracted by whatever was on tv, rather than focusing on what I was reading. I'm hoping the second book will be better.