I’ve always known I was a monster, and I don’t mean some teenage vampire shit either.
My mother abandoned me when I was ten years old because I have a freakish mutant disease that makes me incapable of feeling pain. I bounced from one foster family to another because too many people like to test my medical condition in a game of “Try To Make Ollie Scream.” At sixteen, I killed a man for taking that game too far.
Two years later, I’m still on the run in Kodiak, Alaska. Here, I’m the most dangerous person around, until I come face to face with a creature that should only exist in folklore. The monster is an aswang, and I, with my medical anomaly, am uniquely qualified to hunt the beast that haunts the night. At least, that’s what the two scarred, mostly crazy ‘swang hunters tell me when they kidnap me and take me to Fear University, a school where young students learn to hunt and kill aswangs.
I arrive at the university a prisoner, but I stay because I finally find my freedom.
For once in my life, I belong. I’m needed. I make a home for myself inside the university masquerading as an old Alaskan prison. Something close to happiness warms my icy heart when I’m with my scarred, still mostly crazy tutor, Luke Aultstriver. For a murdering runaway like me, Fear University is a haven where I can put my skills to good use hunting monsters in the night.
But when certain truths come to light and even more lies are exposed, I fear that I, Ollie Andrews, am the worst kind of monster of all. And, maybe, they should be hunting me.
For once in my life. I have finally read the most realistic, if not the most comprehensive, novel about aswangs, written by a non-Filipino. And I am impressed with Meg Collett’s writing prowess because she was able to inject fear through this petrifying and blood-curling mythical creature.
Back when I was a kid, hundreds upon hundreds of scary stories about aswangs had been told and these always – and I mean always – really frightened the hell out of me. Poltergeist? Ghosts? Vampires? Werewolves? Cannibals? Headless Horsemen? These didn’t scare me. Not even a flinch. But Aswangs? Oh boy.. Now that’s a creature I would never, ever, ever want to encounter.
In case you didn’t know, Aswang is part of Philippine folklore, it is a cross between a vampire, werewolf, ghoul, and a witch. It is a day-walker and a shape-shifter – the kind of beast that can transform into a boar, a cat, a crow and most commonly into a dog. It is believed that ‘swangs feed on fear, steal corpses, kidnap people and eat their liver and heart.
In Fear University, Ollie Andrews encountered a dog that looked menacingly evil, with eyes that see her reflection upside down. It growled, prowled, attacked her, bit her. Not knowing what kind of beast it was, she did what she had to do. She killed it. And she came out alive and didn’t feel any pain. At all.
Until she’d been tased. Two strangers, Luke and Hatter came out of nowhere and thrown her at the back of a van and drugged her. They said she killed an aswang, or ‘swang, and although she was just a civilian, she was what Fear University needed. And so her non-existent life began at the one place that provided her a family of sorts. A family she never had ever since her mother abandoned her. A family of hunters. A family of Aswang hunters.
Once again, Meg Collett amazed me. From Michaela of End of Days, to Clark of Days of New, now comes Ollie Andrews who, in my opinion, is even better than Katniss Everdeen. Ollie is one of a kind. She doesn’t feel pain. She doesn’t even know pain. She’s been running her whole life. From Max, from the government, from the cries of the girl in the basement. She’s an outsider. Always the outsider. She’s one helluva kick-ass girl and she knows it. She actually scared the crap out of me. And I liked it!
This is definitely one of the many Meg Collett books that I could not put down. I wouldn’t mind if I were compelled to stay up the entire night reading it. I didn’t care if it ended in a cliffhanger. As long as Meg writes it, I am sure it is definitely worth the wait.