Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns...
Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund is not a light read, nor is it for the faint of heart, but it is highly enjoyable nonetheless. I have to admit that I was feeling kind of dubious about it, despite all of the praise it’s received. I wasn’t sure how writing a story about unicorns in modern times would really feel believable, but once I got about 150 pages in I did not want to put it down.
Rampant deals frankly with teenage sexuality and violence, especially with questions of virginity. I was so glad that Peterfreund depicted all of these things in a way that teenagers could relate to instead of just sugarcoating it and pretending that everyone was repressed. I loved that Astrid questioned so much around her and about herself throughout the novel. Yet as all of this was happening, she was still strong, and kicked serious butt on the battlefield.
As for the unicorns, let me just say that if I ever go to Rome I may be spend my entire vacation lying awake in terror. The author portrays unicorns in battle as the bloodthirsty, malicious creature that they are. As enjoyable as the battle scenes were, I also enjoyed the scenes with Bonegrinder, the pet zhi that Astrid and her fellow hunters keep. The careful juxtaposition of the zhi’s innocence and malice made me want to coddle her one minute and run away screaming the next.
I had one very small problem with this story. For the most part, I enjoyed the writing, but at times it felt a little bit over the top. Peterfreund is clearly a gifted writer, but I put the book down thinking that Astrid’s voice felt a tad unrealistic at times.
This, however, hardly stopped from enjoying this novel. If you are interested in joining the Zombies vs. Unicorns debate, I suggest that whichever side you are on, that you buy Rampant and educate yourself about how awesome unicorns are and how wonderful this book is.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.