Confession: I didn’t finish Rampant, the first book in this series about virgin unicorn hunters. I read some of it, and found it enjoyable, but life conspired.
Jumping into Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund (HarperTeen) turned out to be a great idea, however, as I knew just enough to have my interested piqued. As with any other book where you jump into the middle of a series, you’ll get spoiled a little, but it worked out for me.
Astrid is still a unicorn hunter, using her special unicorn-hunting senses to keep herself and her friends safe. Things have changed since Rampant: the public knows about the vicious unicorns, about the hunters. And things are changing for Astrid, whose friend Cory isn’t sensing the unicorns like she used to. Through a series of events, Astrid finds herself protecting a herd of unicorns and--strangely for her--sympathizing with their plight, against all of her original instincts. Everything is wrong, and things are more wrong following a hunting trip during which Astrid suffers a head injury. She, and the other hunters, are less themselves than they’ve ever been, just when they need to figure things out the most.
If you're looking for a modern girl-kicks-butt book, this is it, but it's also about friendship, long distance romance, and questioning authority. Pair this with Dark Goddess for a one-two punch with substance.
I read this book as a first-round judge for the Cybils Awards, which means that I may have received a review copy from the publisher (or not; I own a lot of the books in this category). I read some books nominated for the YA fantasy and science fiction category in 2010 before the nomination period, and may have already reviewed them or declined to make a public review; these books might not have a Cybils post tag. As a first-round judge, I was tasked with helping create a shortlist of books. My personal reviews do not reflect any actions or discussions of the judging committee.