Control Point is a fast-paced military Urban Fantasy novel. Monster Hunter International is a fast-paced gun-nut Urban Fantasy novel. Both are thrillers, and both are Urban Fantasy. Instead of a normal review, I thought I’d compare the two.
Control Point is a novel by Myke Cole. It’s set in a contemporary world where magic has re-appeared. The story follows Oscar Britton, an air force officer who finds himself manifesting magical powers from a prohibited school. Manifesting prohibited magical powers is normally a death sentence. Britton, however, is forced to join a secret branch of the army, on another world.
Monster Hunter International is by Larry Correia. It’s set in a contemporary world were monsters are real. The story follows Owen Pitt, an accountant who’s a self-proclaimed gun-nut. Owen’s boss turns into a werewolf and attacks him. Owen manages to kill his boss, but that draws the attention of an international organization fighting monsters: Monster Hunter International.
Neither plot is very complicated or remarkably original, but they’re not half-bad. Both have an anti-establishment message, but Control point has a message against oppression of minorities by the government, while Monster Hunter International has a more libertarian message that privatization is always better than government. That clouds my judgement a bit, because I am for equality but against libertarianism.
Myke Cole has a military background, which shows in the military jargon and procedures, they feel authentic – to somebody like me at least, who admittedly hasn’t been in the military.
Larry Correia, like his protagonist Owen Pitt, is a gun-nut and former accountant. I’m not very familiar with guns, but again, it felt authentic.
Authenticity is something writers strive for, although it is usually partially smoke and mirrors. This applies especially to Fantasy – unless Fantasy writers are secretly magicians with vast magical experience. By basing the contemporary elements of their fiction on their real-life experiences, both writers manage to make their books feel authentic. In other words, suspension of disbelief.
Action and tension
Both books are very good at tension and action scenes. The books have some pauses between the action scenes, but mostly, stuff is happening.
Monster Hunter International leans on dragged-out action scenes, much like in action hero movies. Each time you think a fight is done, something more nasty steps into the ring, ramping up the tension until the climax of the scene.
Control Point is more subtle, putting pressure on the main character. Oscar Britton is a sorcerer being hunted for the simple fact that he is who he is. The way Britton is bullied and hunted creates both sympathy for his character and a rising tension. After the first few chapters you want him to take certain members of the US army out back and shoot them. Combined with fast-paced events, the book seems to be in high gear all the time.
The characterization is where the books really start to differ.
Owen Pitt in Monster Hunter International is a bit of a Marty Stu. The character is an account/gun-nut just like Correia, who saves the world single-handedly. Some of the rest of the characters are a religious black guy who loves Lord of the Rings, a former stripper turned bad-ass, and a cigar smoking always-in-control commander. They all feel a bit cliché. And while the action scenes are great, the character interactions in between the action are cringe-worthy. I think the low-point is Pitt’s job interview for Monster Hunter International. At the end, he demands a dinner date with his female interviewer before signing on. That’s both a fourteen-year-old’s fantasy and a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.
Oscar Britton feels more real. In the first few chapters alone, he’s forced to shoot a teenage girl in the stomach, accidentally kills his own father, and then he’s made a virtual slave. You really don’t want to be him, but you do root for him. Nicely done, Myke Cole.
Both Monster Hunter International and Control Point are good books. They are both action-packed urban Fantasy novels. However, Control Point is stronger outside the action scenes, with characters who are more real and more interesting.