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Friday, February 12, 2010

Gone Are the Adults, Now Comes the Hunger ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note: While this review will contain no spoilers for Hunger by Michael Grant, it may inadvertently mention plot surprises from Gone. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

If things were bleak in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) before, they're absolutely desperate now. The shelves at Ralph's are empty, killer worms patrol the farmland, and deadly fights are breaking out over one measley piece of beef jerky. With the sadistic Caine temporarily out of the picture, the "townies" are unleashing their fury on each other. An increasingly aggravated Sam gets to hear about every little argument, from quarrels between siblings to fights over food to rumbles about civil war between Freaks and Normals. As if things aren't quite dangerous enough, there seems to be a monster lurking in an abandoned mine shaft just outside of Perdido Beach. A monster of unknown origin who invades kids' minds, bidding them - no, forcing them - to carry out his evil plans.

As things go from bad to worse in Perdido Beach, Sam knows the most important thing is stopping the monster. Caine, Lana and some other kids with important powers seem to be under its control. responding to its frantic plea for "food." Meanwhile, animals and humans are still evolving. Powerless kids are resentful of the "freaks," the "freaks" are being targeted by bullies, and the whole FAYZ is in utter chaos. With no food, no cops, no parents and plenty of pent-up anger, what's to stop the kids from revolting? Can Sam step up and take control or is it simply too much for him this time?

Although Hunger, like its predecessor Gone, features heart-stopping action and engaging characters, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book. The pacing is a little slower, the story seems a little redundant, and the whole thing's just a little more gory (think of Fido's fate in a community of starving children), a little more disturbing. It's still engaging, just not quite as consumingly so. Like Gone, Hunger is mostly a "clean" book with very little swearing, only a small bit of sexual innuendo and a hopeful tone that helps balance out the bleakness of the situation the characters are facing. Grant does introduce a homosexual relationship in Hunger - while it's a very minor part of the story and not at all graphic, it's still there. Call me a prude, but it's just not something I want to read about. All in all, though, Hunger remains an engrossing, absorbing, multi-layered thrill ride.

I have an ARC of Lies, the next book in the series, that I plan to delve into right after I read some nice, light, happy fiction. The finished book comes out in May. It will be followed by Plague. I'm not sure how long the series will go on, but I'm starting to feel super sorry for the kids caught in the wasteland known as The FAYZ ...

(Readalikes: Gone by Michael Grant, Life As We Knew It and The Dead & the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language, some sexual innuendo, references to homosexuality, violence and adult themes/situations.

To the FTC, with love: I received Hunger from the generous folks at HarperTeen. Thanks!


  1. Cant read any of this review because I just picked up Gone last night. Man, that book had me at page 1.

  2. OMG I'm so jealous, you have the ARC of Lies!!! I can't wait till it's out in May!

    Hunger was just brilliant, loved it more than Gone, can't wait for more!!!


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