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Hilary T. Smith
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Bryan Peterson
Hunting Lila - Sarah Alderson Part #1 – In Which I “Get It”Hunting Lila is a frenetic, light-hearted mash up of teen romance and comic-book action, with a backbeat of mystery and suspense. Narrated by seventeen year old Lila, who has been keeping her power of telekinesis a secret, the plot is set in motion by a mugging on the streets of London. Lila takes off for California, to the safety of her brother and long-time crush, Alex. As it turns out, they have been keeping secrets of their own, and Lila is plunged into a world of black ops, revenge plotting and superpowers. Reading Hunting Lila was a little like hearing a popular song on the radio. You know, that song that’s on such high rotation that even if it’s not to your usual taste, you find it stuck in your head and hear yourself humming along? In a similar way, Hunting Lila had a catchy quality. It’s a light read with a flirty vibe, focused heavily on keeping the reader entertained. (And given the adoration it has been receiving– I guess here it largely succeeds). While the pacing isn’t overly consistent – it picks up rapidly in the second half, whereas the first focuses more on setting up the romantic plot – Hunting Lila has a sense of fun which makes it quite quick and easy to consume. The premise, while certainly not groundbreaking, was enjoyable and a slightly different take on current paranormal trends, with a couple of twists and turns. The romance element was fluffy and heavily geared for swooning. I did like Alex, and I the interactions between he and Lila were certainly charged and engaging enough to keep me flipping pages to see how things would unfold. Although when the “I can’t survive in a world without you for a single second” moment occurred, there was much eye-rolling on my behalf.On my purely entertainment-based evaluation, Hunting Lila passes. But :| Part #2 – In Which I Rain on the Fun Parade. SorryI’m going to place my griping below in spoiler tags, as I may mention elements of the plot best kept unspoiled. I was disturbed by the manner in which the characters, particularly the females, were portrayed in this novel. As a main character, I wished Lila had a little more agency, beyond dreaming up scenarios in which Alex would touch her. Honestly, her “maybe I should get bruised/injured/fall over so that Alex will touch me/catch me/hold me in his arms LOL” style of humour really irritated me. Lila does eventually do one or maybe two cool things, but this not until the very end of the book, which was disappointing given her huge potential. Otherwise, she seems to spend much of time being the delicate, slightly immature girl being protected by big, strong men with chiseled six-packs from other, more menacing, big, strong men with chiseled six-packs. In honesty, one of these scenes (at the Unit’s base) made my skin crawl. I realise that this scene is given a little more context later in the book, but nevertheless I found it distasteful. Likewise, I found that Lila was overly infantilised by the other characters, and even by herself. I get the “need for the protection” etc but at times I found she was treated in maddeningly juvenile manner. Rather than being a villain in her own right, I found Rachel was more of a flimsy, Barbie-doll like caricature, who served mostly to fuel Lila’s feelings of inadequacy and rivalry as opposed to propelling the plot. (Lila, of course, does not realise that she is beautiful. And on that note, why is almost every character in this book so physically attractive? Why? The constant descriptions were a little much.)The character I enjoyed and found the most interesting was probably Suki. But even then it is implied that she’s crazy as a cut snake slightly unhinged. Sigh.It’s merely my opinion, but I was incredibly annoyed by what I perceived to be a couple of fairly squicky gender stereotypes, and it detracted hugely from my ability to just go along for the ride.This was a case of like, not love, for me. The concept and the plot were interesting and fun, respectively, and I see appeal of the romance, but overall, I can’t rate it above average, or “it was ok”. Which it was. I may read the sequels out of interest to see where the story goes next, but ultimately, I was disappointed with Hunting Lila. :/