Y: The Last Man meets The Girl With All the Gifts in Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt, an explosive post-apocalyptic novel that follows trans women and men on a grotesque journey of survival.
Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they’ll never face the same fate.
Robbie lives by his gun and one hard-learned motto: other people aren’t safe.
After a brutal accident entwines the three of them, this found family of survivors must navigate murderous TERFs, a sociopathic billionaire bunker brat, and awkward relationship dynamics―all while outrunning packs of feral men, and their own demons.
Manhunt is a timely, powerful response to every gender-based apocalypse story that failed to consider the existence of transgender and non-binary people, from a powerful new voice in horror.
Manhunt starts with a great premise. A virus has infected anyone with testosterone and turns them into murderous, feral zombies. They live in the woods, run in packs, and eat anything they can get their hands on. Fran and Beth, two women who have been friends before their transition, are hunting these men to harvest their adrenal glands and testicles to continue to have the estrogen to keep from turning into one of these monsters themselves. Since all of the men were now animals, women have taken over everything. This includes the TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists), who are organized and ruthlessly killing the transwomen of the world. Fran and Beth’s story starts and ends with them just trying to survive in a world where they do not feel welcomed.
It took me a while to connect with these characters. mostly because part one is action with very little character development. Beth and Fran are thrown into the middle of a zombie and TERF attack that does not give them time to breathe. This anxiety is passed along to the reader because the danger and action is nonstop. The second part is when we really start to understand the characters. The book switches stories between Beth, Fran, Robbie, a trans man they find in the woods, and some new characters that are introduced as major secondary characters. Even though there is more character building than world building the the second part, the novel does not feel like it slows down at all. There is still plenty of action, gore, and a large amount of sex. By the time part three starts, we are fully invested in the story and the brewing fight between the TERFs, who are trying to be a new government, and the women who will do anything to fight against their anti-trans ideals. By the time the final showdown starts, with even more action than the first part, we are so attached to the story and the characters that we are totally invested. The final part is brutal, gory, and very much worth the effort it takes to get there.
I am not really the target audience for Manhunt. In fact if I was a character in the novel, I would be one of the feral men eating raw meat and killing any woman or animal that I see. This is okay. I keep thinking about how there are some horror-loving trans kids who need representation, and having two trans women and a trans man as the heroes of a story will honestly make this a LGBTQ+ horror classic. There is a movement in horror to “Make Horror Gay AF” and I fully support stories like these to show that horror is a genre that can be inclusive and for everyone. This is another reason to love Manhunt, just as much as the greatness of the story. The world Gretchen Felker-Martin builds is strong, dangerous, and very unique. I cannot wait to read what Felker-Martin has in store for us next.
I received this as an ARC from Tor Nightfire and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.