Review Blog

Mar 17 2010

Hunger by Michael Grant

cover image

Egmont, 2009.
(Ages 12+) In the second book of the Gone series, life is proving to be very tough after the coming of the FAYZ when everyone over the age of 15 disappeared without trace. More and more kids are developing strange powers and weird animals are popping up everywhere. Sam Temple, a boy who longs for his casual surfing days, has been elected Mayor and is finding it very difficult to cope with the demands of all the children. Everyone is hungry. There is no system for harvesting food, and because there are no rewards for helping out, kids refuse to be cooperative about doing jobs. What is worse, ferocious worms with sharp teeth have taken over the last remnants of crops, and it is life threatening to even attempt to pick a cabbage. And some children are being manipulated by the Darkness and are hearing strange calls saying that it is hungry.
This is a complex multi-layered story. It is essential to read Gone, the first book in the series, before tackling this one (all 586 pages of it). It is probably also a good idea to quickly skim through Gone as a reminder of the many characters and events that have preceded this story. Grant does a great job of maintaining the fast pace and action driven plot that was evident in Gone. His characters are multi-dimensional. The reader sees Sam struggling to be a good leader, even though he is just a kid. Astrid used her exceptional intelligence to problem solve while trying to look after Petey, her little brother and Mary struggles with an eating disorder while trying to supervise the nursery with all the babies. There is conflict between the 'normals' and the 'freaks', led by Zel, who hates anyone who has abnormal powers and leads a lynching party against Hunter. Caine struggles about giving in to the Darkness and Lana, the healer faces the worst thing that could happen to someone whose gift it is to heal.
I was fascinated by the portrayal of leadership and power that Grant paints while juggling a big cast of both good and evil characters and lots of fast paced action. Caine is portrayed as a dictator, needing the whiphand of evil Drake to maintain power, while Sam has attempted to be more democratic. Albert, recognising that the structure of capitalism may be necessary for the group's survival, sets up first a bartering system and then introduces gold as purchasing power. The viciousness of the mob, led by
Zel, is quite frightening, as is the inability of the individual to withstand its pressure.
All in all, Hunger is a gripping science fiction/ horror read and sure to please those readers who like their stories packed with action.
Pat Pledger

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