This book is garnering a lot of praise and it’s deserved. It’s bloody exciting. Heart-in-mouth pacing. The action does not stop.
I recently watched the new Chris Hemsworth movie, Extraction on Netflix. At the time I commented that it felt like one long action sequence. I’m someone who normally fast-forwards car chases and fight scenes… waiting for the dialogue to recommence. That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the movie. I did, but it was what it was.
I felt the same about The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser. It is almost one long action-packed scene. It wasn’t until later I discovered the author is also a scriptwriter and a film based on the book is already under development. The Hunted is certainly a very visceral experience. So perhaps he visualised the entire thing, as if an action-sequence.
by Gabriel Bergmoser
Published by HarperCollins
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
Frank is a service station owner on a little-used highway who just wants a quiet life. His granddaughter has been sent to stay with him to fix her attitude, but they don't talk a lot.
When a badly injured young woman arrives at Frank's service station with several cars in pursuit, Frank and a handful of unsuspecting customers are thrust into a life-or-death standoff.
But who are this group of men and women who will go to any lengths for revenge? And what do they want? Other than no survivors ...?
I can see why it’s assumed this book will be popular. For me though it lacked a little on the storytelling side. I’m not sure if I should say too much about the bloodied woman that stumbles into Frank’s life. He runs a roadside diner which is apparently neat and presentable but uninspiring, cooking only what he can buy frozen and fry. Seemingly a stop in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps it’s meant to be metaphorical, he and his roadhouse don’t offer much, but they’re a haven of sorts. A place to refuel before it’s too late. A last resort.
The timing of these events are unfortunate as he’s got his 14yr old granddaughter Allie staying with him—a situation I think needed more backstory. Her parents are separating and they’ve shuffled her off, despite Frank and his son (and daughter-in-law) being estranged. How on earth they’d entrust a man they believe to be a non-law-abiding type care for their daughter was kinda bewildering.
The story unfolds in the ‘then’ and ‘now’. The then being the meeting between a likeable but naive University student (Simon) who’s keen to explore the ‘real’ Australia and young secretive woman (Maggie) who decides to join him on his adventure. I really liked Simon. We’re in his head for a while and I enjoyed his existential angst. I struggled with Maggie. We learn she’s got some past (emotional) baggage but she never really became more likeable or engaging (for me, anyway).
What comes next is kinda horrific and—in many ways—though it’s meant to be a shock, it was shocking in a sad non-poignant way, and I’m not sure I ever recovered from the unfolding events. ie. Picture me sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting la-la-la to drown out what was happening.
This book made me realise that, though I’m no longer into complicated plots featuring layers of conspiracies, corruption and wheeling and dealing; I need more than action to engage me. This is partially one of my own (many many) idiosyncrasies. I think however—and perhaps Bergmoser does this on purpose—the absolute futility and pointlessness of the events of this book pissed me off.
Not everyone survives here. It’s not that kind of book. Good people die. I cared less about others, including the bloodied and battered woman with whom I sympathised only minimally and liked even less. She has an interesting backstory, but I found it hard to care. (And I realise by her inciting such strong feelings in me Bergmoser has done a good job in creating her character!)
I enjoyed this book, but lovers of action-packed, fast-paced novels will appreciate it far more.
The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available via ebook with the print version being released in August 2020.
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.