I wasn’t sure what to expect, going into Diana Peterfreund’s novel Rampant. I was intrigued by the concept of killer unicorns, because lets face it, a horse with a horn is gonna be more bad ass than a regular horse. I wasn’t expecting so many kinds of unicorns, and such ties to mythology. I loved that Peterfreund used existing myths and legends to reinforce her story.
“I tried to imagine a college application essay about what it was like to crouch in a field at dawn and watch my cousin stab a man-eating monster to death. That probably would make quite the impression on an admissions committee.” (188)
I enjoyed that the novel begins with the contrast between the fluffy happy unicorns of children’s stories and the brutal creatures Astrid’s mother’s been ranting about her whole life. I also enjoy that Astrid was skeptical of her mother’s theories, but at the same time prepared by them.
“Boys are curious creatures. The second you give in and offer them what they’ve been hounding you for, they start to question it.” (346)
I know this book has been critiqued for being more about dating drama than about unicorn slaying action. There were times when I felt like the need to be a virgin to interact with unicorns was a bit strained and ridiculous. On the other hand, it worked within the mythology and provided the source of a lot of the novel’s angst.
One of the most powerful scenes for me wasn’t about unicorns at all, and I think this is actually the mark of a good fantasy novel: that it relates to real world issues. One of the characters is date-raped, and she questions if it was, in fact, rape. It was, but her confusion, and self doubt are understandable in the circumstances. I’ve seen authors deal with rape before, but always in black and white, never in such a real way that explains why victims sometimes feel guilty, and why they shouldn’t.
Getting back to the unicorns …I liked the power the hunters had, and the greed of the pharmaceutical company was expected but poignant.
I would really like to read more killer unicorn action, so maybe I’ll finally get around to my copy of Zombies vs. Unicorns?