Pros: Madelyn is a fascinating character who gets into all the trouble.
Cons: Some small bits of confusion
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I’ve been waiting for Ike Hamill’s Madelyn’s Mistake ever since reading Madelyn’s Nephew. I’ve enjoyed the Ike Hamill books I’ve read so far, but the Madelyn series is by far my favorite. She lives in a world where mysterious ‘Hunters’ kill anyone who hasn’t learned the tricks to avoiding them. And by kill, I mean they take a person apart from the outside in. The group of people Madelyn has (somewhat reluctantly) joined up with knows the tricks. They keep a bonfire burning, which seems to mesmerize some of the Hunters and keep them busy for a while. People try to avoid falling into set patterns when they move around. If they hear the clicking sound that heralds the Hunters’ approach they go to ground just as quickly as they can. Hunters can also be attracted by sound, making it difficult to use vehicles. Life has become a terrifying thing in which every move is calculated to stay alive as long as possible. But the community Madelyn lives in is trying to go one step further: they want to find a way to make certain areas entirely safe, or find ways to disable and/or destroy the Hunters. That’s going to be much harder than they thought–and no one expected it to be easy.
Ryan is the guy in charge of various experimental programs the community is working on. Well, and some they’d likely never have approved of. I’d say he’s insane, but he seems to have gone sly-insane which is much more interesting. Some of his people’s projects work but end up costing a lot of lives. Other, more secretive, projects could get the whole community killed by Hunters.
Malty is a nearly-forty-year-old mechanical doll. So many horror authors would go with the creepy doll theme and leave it at that, but Hamill does one better. I can’t get into it because it will spoil some of the revelations. I’ll just say that things seemed standard creepy-doll for a short while, but it turns out that she has a very interesting agenda and actually has a ‘real’ personality.
We needed to be reminded as to what ‘Optioners’ were earlier in the book. I couldn’t for the life of me remember since I read the first Madelyn book a while ago (and I have a really bad memory). There are some parts of the book that might have made a little more sense or had a bit more emotional resonance with that reminder.
Part of what I love about Madelyn is that she’s totally and utterly her own person. She’s also prone to trying to solve any problem with a gun–it’s the hammer and all problems look like nails. She has her own kind of smarts, and it doesn’t mesh well with the community’s. If it weren’t for the fact that her nephew Jacob is living there–and that Madelyn has happened into a quasi-relationship of her own–she would undoubtedly still be on her own.
The story enthralled me to the point that I put off watching the latest S.H.I.E.L.D. episode by a few hours, and that’s an accomplishment! I seriously want to read the next installment and hate having to wait!
There were a couple of minor places where I felt some confusion (like that caused by not being able to remember what Optioners are), but they weren’t a big deal. It might help to remember to re-read Madelyn’s Nephew before Madelyn’s Mistake.