Eva Darrows's debut novel The Awesome features the most sarcastic, raunchiest, bad-ass-est heroine in recent YA history -- monster hunting has never been so outrageous.

Maggie Cunningham is seventeen, home-schooled, and a second-generation monster hunter. Her neon-haired, zero-fucks-given mother has been taking her along to catch minor sprites and rabid leprechauns since she was old enough to hold a crossbow, but Maggie's hit a wall. She can't level up to journeyman hunter because vampires go into an unstoppable frenzy in the presence of virgins, so Maggie has to get laid.

There's a lot of talk about which lines young adult fiction can and cannot cross, and The Awesome crosses pretty much all of them. Maggie — badly socialized, body conscious, and engaged with a kill-or-be-killed world — is determined to let us know just how insouciant and capable she is, and that means that the narrator comes across as trying very, very hard, to the point of being tooth-achingly forced at times.

But Maggie is charming, and the world she inhabits, in which monsters stalk the land and hunters are deputized by the government to put down the rogues, is ripe with potential, much of which is realized in this volume (the way the book ends makes it clear that there is more to come). Maggie is embroiled in battles that sit at the nexus of strategy and tactics and politics and policy. This is a great groove for a story to be in.

The Awesome's got the whole package — coming of age, mother-daughter reconciliation, ass-kicking combat, ancient vampiric mysteries and lovable zombies. What's more, the package itself is gorgeous, sporting some sticker-grade cover-art by Pye parr, hot pink and neon-green/yellow spot color, and black edging to die for. It's a book that stands out. I read my copy while at a science fiction convention and I got stopped ten times a day by people who'd spotted the book from across the room and wanted to know more.

The Awesome is a promising start to a new series and a new career. I'm looking forward to the next one.

The Awesome [Eva Darrow/Ravenstone]

-Cory Doctorow