The Hunt continues the saga of Ariane's attempts to extricate herself from GTX, the sinister research organization that created her. Ariane is an alien-human hybrid, created using human DNA and DNA from the alien found at Roswell in 1947.
Ariane's adoptive father, Mark Tucker, helped her escape and now she and Zane need to figure out what to do next. They are planning to travel to Zane's mother's home in Chicago. After retrieving a duffelbag from beneath the dumpster, it's contents reveal more surprises. There are Canadian and US passports for a Talia Torv as well as a large amount of cash and a letter from her father, Mark. The bag also contains clothing and the keys to an older model car.
The letter reveals that Ariane has a tracking chip embedded in her neck which can be inactivated by a magnet. But more importantly Mark's letter also reveals several things; that Ariane was never free from GTX but was allowed to live outside the research lab and that she needs to cut ties to Wingate. She also learns that the other labs who are in a battle to win a lucrative government contract to create supersoldiers are out to kill her. There is to be a trial or fight to the death between the three supersoldiers created by Dr. Jacobs of GTX, David Laughlin of Laughlin Integrated Enterprises and Emerson St. John of Emerson Technology. Her father warns her that corporate espionage between all three companies means that Ariane's escape will not go unnoticed for very long. Although her father tells her to try to leave the United States, it soon becomes apparent that this will not be possible.
Zane and Ariane locate a late model van that Ariane's father had hidden for her in a storage center. They travel to his mother's home where Ariane makes the discovery that Zane's mother is the lab technician, Mara, who cared for her and treated her kindly. Zane's mother is confused and frightened when she meets Ariane, mistaking her for another human-alien hybrid known as Ford. Zane and Ariane learn that David Laughlin has three hybrids named Nixon, Ford and Carter. Zane's mother unknowingly became involved with Laughlin Enterprises when she moved to Chicago after her marriage with Zane's dad collapsed, to take an office job. Laughlin honed in on Mara's experience at GTX and drew her into his research. Mara now works with Laughlin's hybrids, trying to find "the balance between independent thought and obedience, between humanity and all the accelerated benefits of your ...other people." Mara tells Ariane that the Laughlin hybrids seem to thrive as a communal cell rather than as individuals. The Laughlin hybrids were raised without caregivers and are not able to relate to humans. As a result, Ford hates humans. Ariane learns also that the hybrids have been sent to school.
Mara warns Ariane to return to Wingate where she will be protected by GTX from Laughlin and also the hybrids. However Zane and Ariane decide against this and instead learn from Mara where the hybrids are attending school. Ariane intends to seek out the hybrids and try to convince them to work with her to obtain their freedom. But when she and Zane manage to meet them at Linwood Academy, they realize that what Mara has told them is true; the three hybrids move together as though they are a single entity, led by Ford. They also see why Mara mistook Ariane for Ford, as they look identical.
Ariane proposes that they work together to obtain their freedom. Ariane knows that if she can free Ford, Nixon and Carter, the trials won't take place. However, Ford tells them that they will not help her unless she obtains a supply of the enzyme, Quorosene, which is being withheld from them unless they cooperate.
When Ariane and Zane return to Mara's home, they learn that Quinn has been kidnapped by Dr. Jacobs and is being used as a way to lure Ariane back to GTX. However, Ariane believes that if she turns herself into Dr. Jacobs, Quinn AND Zane will never be safe because Jacobs knows that she cares for Zane.
All of this makes Ariane determined to obtain the Quorosene and end the experimentation on the alien hybrids. With time running out,she devises a plan that hopefully will save both Ford and Quinn. But when Zane intervenes with the best of intentions, Ariane must change her own game plan.
The Hunt manages, in the last half of the novel, to live up to the promise of the first novel, The Rules. Readers might find the middle of this novel drags, as Kade focuses on the blossoming physical attraction between Zane and Ariane while slowly continuing to advance the storyline about the hunt and possible recapture of Ariane. At times the relationship takes over the story, when all the reader wants is to learn how Ariane will get away from GTX. The author also spends considerable time developing the backstory behind Zane, his relationship with his brother and the abusive relationship with his father. This allows us to understand the motivations behind Zane's actions later in the novel.
The last eight chapters are very exciting with several unexpected twists that lead to a cliffhanger ending and provide and excellent segue into the final novel in this trilogy.
The Hunt incorporates the requisite themes of identity, human experimentation, and the right to be free. Ariane never asked to be created but now that she exists she has a right to live her life the way she chooses and not to be subjected to experimentation and captivity. Although she is part alien, she is also human and therefore has human rights.
Overall, The Hunt delivers what readers expected based on the first novel. It's unfortunate that it the reading is marred by poor editing, with several typographic errors as well as general slips such as referring to Ariane as Ari.
The Hunt by Stacey Kade
New York: Hyperion 2014