It took me a little while to get into James Alan Gardner's Hunted. About a hundred or so pages in, things picked up and began to move at a much more urgent clip. Gardner's writing is strong, which is necessary to compliment his inventive and creative imagination.
Edward York is an Explorer. Though the title sounds prestigious, the soldiers known as Explorers are often people with mental deficiencies. Despite his handsome features and muscular build, he is, to put it simply, dumb. The Explorers, for that reason, are considered expendable.
York's intelligence or lack thereof could not be classified as his fault. His father genetically tampered with Edward and his sister Samantha's genes. She was born with looks and brains. She is Daddy's pride and joy, so when she dies, York is forgotten and left on a moon for two decades before he manages to find a way out.
On the trip toward home, everyone else on the ship dies, leaving York as the sole survivor. He assumes role as Captain and patiently waits for the autopilot to complete the trip. He is certain that all the dead around him were punished simultaneously by an almighty power known as The League of People.
The home planet will not allow the ship to land, fearing a contagious virus may have killed the crew. Ultimately they send Explorer Festina Ramos to help York, but that does not make things any easier. It is clear that a conspiracy is under way, and up to York to figure out what is going on, and why, before he is silenced forever.
Full of twists and turns, Hunted is an exciting novel that blends science fiction and mystery seamlessly. Exploring relationships with one wave of the hand while revealing disheartening betrayals with the other, Gardner exploits his talent as a storyteller. The ending is a surprise that keeps the book honest and the climax worth the wait.