Attention: This review will include an inordinate amount of Johnny Depp seeing as the lovely Rue Volley described him as her muse, particularly for Hunter. You have all been warned.
But I’m not even sorry.
Catch & Release
I can tell you this third instalment to Rue Volley’s Hunter’s Blood series definitely measures up to the hype; it is in no way a disappointment. In fact it is my favourite book in the series; I could
and will read it over and over again. It just gets better every time you read it; you notice more and more fantastic subtle things Rue does to make it such a brilliant short, both as a standalone story and as part of the series itself.
There are so many good points about this story that I can just ramble on about for ages–and I probably would if it wasn’t for the word limit on my ridiculous posts–but I especially want to focus on the stunning character development and wondrous plot. Just so you can understand just how great Catch & Release is. And to make some sense of my many Johnny Depp references, we’re going to start with the ever mysterious Hunter.
Well, what can I say about Hunter?
Although inspired by the charming and kooky Depp, Hunter reaches a whole new level of crazy never explored by humanity before. In Catch & Release, we start to unravel the mystery that is Hunter when an old flame returns to his life, but as we delve into his past we also delve deeper into just how unbalanced he is. This made me so excited when reading the short; I was so excited to finally get some insight into Hunter. But what Rue does in the short is better than anything I could’ve expected; she dangles the truth in front of our faces and then snatches it away. Then all you want is to know more and to be honest, I loved it. I loved the way she teases with aspects of Hunter, unravels some of his mystery then quickly winds it back up. It made Hunter grow on me so much more.
Without spoiling anything–even though I really want to spoil and gush over what exactly happened–I will try and explain. We start to learn about several titbits about Hunter such as how he started out as a vampire, what exactly caused him to be so messed up and a few other deep dark secrets. But just as we think we know Hunter a little bit better, all of our knowledge is turned on its head at the twist ending and we’re left not quite sure what is true. And I personally was left imagining Hunter like this whenever anything sexual happened:
Time to be moving swiftly on to Vanessa or else I’ll just go on about Hunter forever and ever. Now Vanessa was just amazing in this short, even more so than Hunter. Although we may know more about Vanessa through her narrative, we are still left with some mystery from the first two shorts; for example she still suffers from unexplained memory lapses. But her unstable mental state is elaborated upon a lot in Catch & Release; we start to see her more as a psychopath herself than just a girl suffering from the occasional amnesia episode.
At first the hints at her instability are subtle, such as Hunter suggesting more happened on the night of her turning than she remembers, that she actually instigated it–even though he quickly seems to take it back. But when the conflict with Hunter’s old flame builds, we start to see just how broken Vanessa is. We are left in her mind a lot, trapped with her thoughts just as she is and we actually see a gradual break down on her sanity. I especially noticed this as she ponders over fundamental parts of her life such as her love for Hunter; at first she is so certain in her love for him but gradually her doubts build, she starts to wonder if there was any love. And by the short’s climax, she is completely numb. The sassy and sharp-tongued Vanessa has been broken and she seems to be a shadow of her human self, that little unstable girl shut away from the world.
All jokes aside, it actually is really moving. I just feel terrible for Vanessa, I almost wanted to put the book down and take a deep breath, just to separate myself from all her tumbling emotions and ruined psyche. This is where Rue really shined to me; sure Hunter was great, there’s no denying that but Vanessa just completely stole the short for me. Her struggle was presented nigh perfectly, it was so realistic and I felt a pit forming in my stomach as I read, feeling absolutely heartbroken. Vanessa’s character was explored so well, every aspect of her was deepened but parts were still left ambiguous for further instalments.
I just can’t fault how Rue presented Vanessa and Hunter in Catch & Release. We finally got to see new sides to both of them without having every part of their lives laid bare. There’s still anticipation for future instalments to explain all the mystery left by the ending. Plus it was nice to know just how crazy the two really were, especially when Vanessa actually seemed like the sane one at times. Boy was that misleading.
I guess I really need to talk about the plot now especially as I keep referring to the ending. The plot was great; the opening was pretty much flawless. I cracked up as we were welcomed into some hilarious banter between the vampiric couple, the banter everyone loves oh-so-much. But even with Rue’s spot on humour, this short had a notably dark tone. I would even say the darkest tone of the three but I think it was great and was actually set up really well. I feel the shorts were written to prepare the reader for a dark third instalment as there’s a really nice transition from the first novel: to me the first instalment was fairly light-hearted par a few murders, the second was darker and resonated in religious practices and the third was just complete blackness, it was beautifully dark and filled with the grime of society.
And the ending–which I just have to describe as a twist–flipped the tone on its head in a way that just left me with my jaw dropped. This honestly was my reaction to the ending at first; I just had no idea what to think:
But once I had regained my composure, I tried to go back over the book and wrap my head around what had just happened. The result was pretty much the same.
Eventually I crept back to my laptop, read the last few pages with a vaguely level head and decided to actually form an intellectual opinion on the mind-boggling twist. I was just in shock at first, that’s all I can say. I was stunned. I expected the return of a certain character, but not in the way it happened or the revelation that followed. Not in a million years, not after what happened in the first book through all the game playing. I just felt dumbfounded as we were once again presented with a confusion between what is real and what is not, left wondering if Vanessa actually is in touch with reality or not. It was an amazing ending. Although I felt the need to crawl into bed afterwards and hide safely in my own crazy thoughts.
But I am rarely surprised when reading so this instalment really excited me; it had me on edge and left me boggled in a wonderful way. I have to say that I am blown away; Catch & Release really is the icing on the cake. I expect this series to grow in popularity at a startling speed after this instalment; I expect to see the raving reviews climbing and the gushing fan base to grow far and wide.
The best part is this isn’t even the end of the series; there are more instalments to come and maybe even a full novel. I am pretty damn excited to see more and have a few more mysteries unravelled.
Rue has done herself proud and I will be eagerly waiting for the next instalment.
I need it RIGHT NOW.