Review by Patrick R McDonough
Manhunt is a fever-dream that will linger in your mind long after you wake. Fair warning: Do NOT eat while reading this book!
Gretchen Felker-Martin has a way of creating raunchy grotesqueries with care and precision. She will strike every nerve, twist your guts into pulpy knots, and fracture your mind with an impactful underlayer: a hideously-beautiful creature that is you and me and them and us. Although Manhunt is set in a post-apocalyptic world, it holds up a mirror to sadly reveal a monster. A monster with hope, but a monster nonetheless. It’s 28 Days Later with a laser focus on the battle transgender folks (specifically MTF, male-to-female) have to deal with on a daily basis: rejection from their fellow women on any level, male-created-trauma, mental and emotional health, spirituality, dealing with TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), and the stress-inducing process of transitioning.
When the world is turned on its head (sound familiar?) and hard truths come out, are you the hero you believe yourself to be? Would you survive in the toughest of conditions? So many of us take for granted hospitals, a seemingly limitless supply of places to get a hot meal, and no need (thankfully) to hunt animalistic men and eat their balls. Manhunt makes it abundantly clear how drastically life would change and how limited your options become. It’s real horror.
As real as a militia of TERFs out to hunt our protagonist, for the simple fact that she looks different on the outside from, what that particular group believes to be, a “true” woman.
On the surface, Manhunt is a weird offspring of its own making; in-your-face and honest. This book isn’t for the easily-disturbed (reading that would make me want this book), but, this is a story I truly believe fans of Horror should try to read through the hard times, because the ending is absolutely worth the tribulations, set in a dystopian New England Felker-Martin paints for us all. This story may even drop anchor in your heart, as it has for me. Manhunt feels bigger than it’s page count. It’s written by a woman who is as cutthroat and driven for justice as so many of her characters.
The greatest books, films, and songs reflect issues of their day, and one of the biggest issues of today are the rights for folks that identify within the LGBTQIA+ community to be treated like anyone else. It’s a message that isn’t going away, at least not in our lifetime.
Manhunt is about basic human rights, and unfortunately, not everyone is treated fairly. That’s who we are as a species. So long as we are humans, there will always be a group that’s treated like they are Less Than. This is everything that Manhunt made me think about, and that’s why this book is so vital for so many of you to read this year (or next, or ten years from now). Of course, these are my own views on what the author intended, but it’s a positive and powerful message, one that personally helped me further understand other walks of life and how important it is to try and be kind, loving, and understanding to everyone.
Manhunt isn’t for the weak of stomach. For the weak succumb to the warrior’s bullet and arrow. The weak succumb to death, or worse… to the hunt.