Blurb: What do you do when your magic makes you a target? Run. Fight. Die.
14-year-old Kai Koson had nothing to do with the apocalypse, thank you very much. He was just a baby the day a coven of blood witches ripped a hole in the universe and the demons fell screaming from the sky. Earth and its magic perished. Witchkind was hunted and annihilated.
Now, because he was born a witch, Kai must spend his life running and fighting for survival. Even his own uncle seems determined to abandon him.
With nothing left to lose, Kai runs away and joins a team of galactic bounty hunters. But instead of providing an escape, it sets Kai on a path that will destroy everything he believes about himself and the apocalypse, transforming him into the most wanted teenager in the galaxy.
Written with humour, imagination and darkness, Bounty Hunter and its protagonist Kai Koson stand confidently beside Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Young Bond, Mortal Engines and Harry Potter.
S.J. Hollis’ BOUNTY HUNTER is an excellent read for young or adult readers who enjoy sci-fi and fantasy. It is essentially a coming-of-age apocalyptic/dystopian, following the story of a fourteen year old boy, Kai, and how he struggles being a hunter when he is the hunted…. by the whole galaxy!
Kai is an unfortunate boy as the reader realises that he understands very little about the truth of his very early life. Being brought up by his uncle, Galway, he is used to running from town to town every time it appears that he is being chased away for being different, for being a ‘witch’. Kai is gradually discovering his magic and coming to terms with who he is, trying to identify himself and his abilities. Galway is constantly looking out for him and protecting him to the best of his abilities, but once Kai begins to feel settled he longs for stability and to stop running and face his ‘demons’ if he has to. However, Galway is not supportive of this decision.
However, the reader feels sympathy for Kai and longs for him to be free – free from running, free to live as and where he chooses. Why should he have to keep running his whole life? At the same time, we also realise the danger that he is in, and as the story continues we find out that it is not just his magical quality that he is being sought for but actually who he is. The significance of Kai’s life plays a major storyline in this book, making for an intense read, especially when Kai seems a little lost until he meets the Bounty Hunters – Sam, Yamiko and Cassius.
The imagination of S.J. Hollis is amazing as the reader is then taken on an adventure travelling to different planets with different beings. In fact, at one point it reminded me of Star Trek, with the spaceships, planets, aliens and the politics between each kind. The next moment I was taken on a nostalgic ride back to when I read Enid Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ as a kid, where each day there would be a different land above the tree and within the different lands there would be different kinds of folk, some witch-like characters selling magic potions, etc. Just like the characters in ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ never knew which land was to be atop the tree each day, in Bounty Hunter Kai and the reader is never quite sure what to expect from each planet and the beings that live there.
Another great aspect of S.J. Hollis’ work is her quirkiness and the use of sarcasm within the dialogue. This certainly breaks up the intensity of the whole story and enlightens the mood. These moments occur mostly between Cassius and Kai. Cassius isn’t too keen on Kai being around and displays his feelings very clearly with his dialogue. The relationship between these two characters is interesting and entertaining to follow.
There were moments when I found some of the descriptive paragraphs a little too ‘heavy’, for example, describing the layout of the spaceship, docking bays, etc. However, due to the nature of story, especially being a sci-fi/fantasy, I realise that most is needed to assist the reader in building up the setting, planets and helping the reader to visualise the various characters, i.e. witches, demons, aliens, etc.
The front cover illustrated by Lawrence Mann is very eye catching, original and draws the potential reader in. I love the colours, the darkness and contrast between the red and the blue. It also shows a little of the magic that is in Kai’s hands, which is ironic as the reader has a sense of his magic before he is aware of it.
The whole layout of Bounty Hunter is carefully planned. Each chapter is named appropriate to its content and are quite a nice length to read, making it easy for the reader to read in small doses if they don’t have the chance to read in one or two sittings. Having the chapters named also helps the reader to find areas of the story they may wish to recap on.
If you’re looking for a timeless story within the sci-fi/fantasy genre, suitable for the younger or adult reader, with fantastic imagination, magic, adventure and wondrous characters then look no further. And what’s more, S.J. Hollis is working on a sequel to be released later this year!
Reviewed by Caroline Barker