As you may recall I read the first book in Michael Grant’s new series, Gone, and ADORED it, in fact it was my best read in July. Whenever I read something that grips me, that I dream about, that I stay up until 2:30am until I turn the last page, I obviously just can’t get enough so I look outside the book for more information.
Basically I google the sh*t out of the author. You know what I found out about Michael Grant? He is a CHARACTER, like a real interesting dude. In a few of the interviews I found he references Seinfeld, shares his personal life, touches on the horror elements in his books, and how Stephen King and the TV show Lost were some of his influences for this series.
I really enjoyed reading extra scenes set in the Fallout Alley Youth Zone (nickname for the area in which the books are set, fallout alley from a 15 year old nuclear plant malfunction, and youth zone since everyone over the age of 14 disappeared one day), these scenes are found on the semi-promotional website TheFAYZ.com
I also found out that he contributes to a YA lit blog with a few other authors as well. After reading Gone and Hunger written from the perspective of teenagers it was sort of weird for me to read his interviews and blog posts written in his own voice, as an adult. It was a little jarring also, especially as he is a character (did I mention that already? I don’t know how else to put it).
ENOUGH STALLING, I read Hunger over a month ago and have been procrastinating on writing this post because I didn’t like it as much as Gone. Whereas The Book Smugglers’ Thea (whose much more detailed reviews prompted me to read these books) liked Hunger much better.
Per usual, here in the summary and then some of my thoughts:
It’s been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.
Three months since all the adults disappeared.
The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.
Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.
Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It’s the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.
But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.
It’s a war of teens and children with guns and Superpowers battling against each other over food, the plant that supplies electricity, and burgeoning prejudices of regular humans versus those with superpowers.
The pacing in Hunger was still excellent, with appropriate introspection scenes from each main character mixed with dramatic fight sequences, events shaping the social order of the FAYZ, self discovery, continued discoveries of the changes brought to the land animals and people, and coping mechanisms within the FAYZ. There is no doubt about it, Hunger was an absolute page turner covering so many angles of the “what would happen if…”
The two factions of kids left in Perdito Beach, the townies lead by Sam, and the private school kids from up the hill led by Caine (who we found out it Sam’s secret twin brother!) continue to plot against each other and try to kill each other multiple times. Sam should have killed Caine when he had the chance in the first book! Arrghh, the bad kids here are sooo evil, Drake (Caine’s second in command) especially frightens me. As in the first book I appreciated the moral questioning some of the good guy characters go through, like hesitating to pull the trigger, to balance out the scary bloodthirsty nature of the others. Bloodthirsty 11 years olds was too weird to me, it seemed very uncharacteristic, and upset me in both books. But honestly, Drake and Caine need to be destroyed!
There is also a HUGE reveal about The Darkness, in Gone we knew little to nothing about it, just a lot of hints and vague references. In Hunger we get it’s whole back-story, how it got in the mine, what it is made of, why it has reached into the minds of some of the children, and why and what it is hungry for. The first book definitely had plenty of fantasy/sci fi elements but Hunger descends even further down that path, which is an unfamiliar route for me.
In terms of plot creativity, pacing, character growth, and writing style Hunger was excellently written. But I didn’t like it as much because it disturbed me.
It gave me nightmares a little bit. It made me a sorta queasy. I shut the book and wrinkled my nose and swallowed heavily a couple times. I think I remember reading one of Mr. Grant’s interviews where he said he WANTED to give readers nightmares. He didn’t want the characters to EVER catch a break. No rest for the weary here.
There are scenes of kids murdering their pets for food, mutant flesh eating worms crawling through kids’ cheeks, killing kids stripping them down to their bones while other kids watch, using their superpowers to kill a deer and eating it raw because they’re so hungry, trying to lynch each other, shooting off a little girl’s legs and she drags herself across the floor leaving a bloody trail and then gets buried alive…
This is why I don’t watch scary movies or read Stephen King. I know myself and I can’t do horror. Especially with my ridiculously overactive imagination.
So I have to be totally honest, as cool as these books are, as AWESOME as the premise of the FAYZ is, as much as I adore Sam and his love interest Astrid the genius, as much as I want to find out what happens next…I don’t think I’m going to read the third installment coming out next year called Lies. All these horror elements are just going to get worse. And I also think I saw this series is planned to be 6 or 7 books long, which is just too much of a commitment to find out what the resolution is.
It’s just not fair to myself or to Mr. Grant’s fantastic writing skills. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THESE BOOKS to readers of all ages. As long as you have a stronger stomach than I.