Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Whew! It has been one crazy month! I'm so sorry to have disappeared on you, dear readers.  Grad school hit crunch time and being a novice blogger, I was not prepared for balancing school work with blog writing.  But I've been reading some fabulous books so I'm going to catch up on my reviews over the next month! Plus I've made an early New Year's Resolution to find a better time management system for the spring. In the meantime, here is my review of Rampant, which is officially my favorite book about unicorns ever. 


Diana Peterfreund

SUMMARY: Astrid wants nothing more than a normal life. She wants to go to prom with a cute boy, babysit for some extra cash, and get into a good college; more than anything, Astrid want to get away from her mother's crazy obsession with unicorns, creatures which she claims are bloodthirsty monsters driven into extinction by virgin huntresses descended from Alexander the Great.  But then Astrid's sort-of boyfriend is mauled by a vicious unicorn right in front of her and her mother is triumphantly planning Astrid's new life as a unicorn hunter and shipping her off to Rome to attend unicorn hunting bootcamp.  Suddenly Astrid's dreams of normalcy seem very far away and she finds herself swept into a whirl of archery, romance, intrigue, and, of course, unicorns. 

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: Wow! I had a feeling that this book would be amazing when I saw Tamora Pierce's very enthusiastic blurb on the back cover and happily, my trust in the great Ms. Pierce was heartily confirmed! I love discovering a new and unique fantasy world and reading Rampant was one such thrilling introduction.  Peterfreund's premise gains its initial kick from its reversal of  a popular cultural image: the conception of unicorns as sweet and innocent.  In less capable hands, the novel would never get beyond this novelty.  However, Peterfreund's thrilling plot and brilliant characterization prevent Rampant from being anything even close to a one trick pony. Instead, the novel stands out as a great story that combines all the best qualities about good fantasy while also remaining unique.  

Astrid is a wonderful narrator and heroine.  She's spunky but vulnerable and pragmatic yet passionate.  Her commentary on her strange and sudden change of situation is full of sarcastic bite and emotional openness.  Astrid's initial disbelief and resistance   to her new life add to the realism of her characterization; after all, wouldn't most of us react in much to the same way to such a huge shift in our senses of reality?  The supporting characters are equally well formed.  The plot moves quickly and Peterfreund writes great action sequences and lovely emotional moments with equal talent.  I could not put this book down; I read it far past my bedtime because I simply could not go to sleep without knowing Astrid's fate.  And the best part? There's a sequel, Ascendent!  

Rampant is thrilling, action-packed, romantic, and fantastical. I would recommend this novel for readers who like Tamora Pierce's or Kristin Cashore's novels of warrior women.