The Hunt for Pierre Jnr by David M Henley

(8.0/10) A fantastic look at the idea of human prejudice and fear.

I have made it an unwritten rule of my reviewing work that I don’t guarantee a review to books I am sent unsolicited. There are enough books out there that I have requested without also committing to reviewing every other book that is sent to me in the hopes that I might read it. I have found that, sometimes, I overlook very enjoyable books, but the reality is that I only have so much time in my life.

So it just so happened that 'The Hunt for Pierre Jnr' by David M Henley rocked up on my doorstep at a lull in my reviewing load (since then I have received ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman and ‘Cold Steel’ by Kate Elliott, so I am somewhat rueing my decision to have started in on The Hunt…). Similarly, the few tantalising hints plastered across the front and back cover were sufficient bait to lure me in: who can resist "He can control you. And he is only eight years old."

And so I started in on this unique book, written by Australian author David M Henley. It was a troubling prospect – I’m not a fan of books in which an eight year old boy can be a convincing villain – but I was quickly cured of my doubts. The world Henley has built is intriguing, handed over to the reader in dribs and drabs that keep you coming back for more, and populated with a variety of characters each with their own disturbing quirks and promises.

In reading The Hunt I was reminded of a thought I have had recently: Sometimes authors write a story to tell you a tale, while other times authors will write you a story to show you a world. The Hunt is of the latter, I believe, focused primarily on the future-world that Henley has created. Filled with telepaths, a governing body wholly new to me, technological advancements that are never all perfectly explained, and a history barely hinted at, I felt sometimes as if the story was simply a convenient cover for displaying a cleverly built world. The story sometimes reads as very staccato, jumping from character to character without that weave to drag the reader along.

However, even after visualising this particular critique of The Hunt, I found myself engrossed in the last third of the book, ploughing through page after page as the characters within fought with what they thought they knew to be right.

I was deeply impressed with the way that neither side (and there are definitely sides to be taken) has a monopoly on what is absolutely right. Henley has managed to create a situation in which – ideologically – there should be a right and a wrong side, but in the application, nothing quite so simple can be found. It is a fantastic look at the idea of human prejudice and fear; the desire to be a part of the ‘normal’ group and to ostracise those who are not ‘normal’. But more than that, it is a look into the mind of those caught between the two; those who want to fight for what is right, but who choose differing ways of doing so.

David M Henley is definitely going to be an author to watch out for, as the next five years progress. He has the potential to be another Peter F Hamilton or Daniel Suarez, and I look forward to finding out what else his mind has to say. Books that cast a dim view of humanity while looking ahead into the future are valuable assets to the human race, and ones that do so with an eight year old telepath capable of destroying Paris are definitely worth a read.

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