Hunger by Michael Grant

Hunger by Michael Grant

Posted January 12, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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Hunger

Hunger

by Michael Grant

Series: Gone #2
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books on May 26, 2009
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Supernatural
Target Age Group: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Representation: Asian, BIPOC, Black, Latinx, Lesbian, LGBTQIAP+
Content Warnings: Ableism, Alcoholism, Animal Death, Bullying, Cannibalism, Child Death, Death, Drug Use, Eating Disorder, Fatphobia, Gun Violence, Hate Crime, Violence

Rating: ★½

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

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. GONE.

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.

The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

 

I can see why this series snares readers – the slow-building tension and the variety of voices makes it interesting and widely appealing for the casual reader.  Alas, with Hunger I will personally be calling it quits.

There were multiple things that made Hunger concerning for me.

The first is the sheer amount of POVs.  Gone already had twelve POVs.  Off the top of my head, there’s at least nineteen POVs in Hunger.  Almost every single character that has a name in Hunger has at least one chapter written in their perspective… there may be 5 characters that don’t.  I’m all for multiple POVs, but I think nearing twenty is a bit excessive.  It takes forever for the plot to move.  I’m sure Grant is building for events in the other books, but I found the pacing lag as I read, and I was getting bored.  It was just… really slow-paced.  And somewhat excessive.  For example, I think Dekka as a character was great – it’s awesome to have a Black character POV and I love that there’s LGBTQ+ rep.  But her chapters were fluff.  The story would have moved more quickly by leaving her as a supporting character.

And while we’re talking about Dekka… let’s throw in Edilio and Duck as well.  After a little while, the diversity in Hunger started to feel very token.  The readers knew were diverse only because they told other characters in dialogue, or in Duck’s case, thought about it themselves.  There is none of the richness of diversity of real communities.  It was flat and poorly represented.  I’m not Black, Asian, or Honduran – I’d love to hear from own voices readers on the representation of these characters.  As an outsider.. it felt… stiff.  The dialogue was uncomfortable for me when the characters announced their diversity.  Maybe it’s just me?

While we’re talking about cringiness… lets talk about Little Pete.  I lost count how many times the “r” word has been used between Gone and Hunger.  The ableism of the characters in this book is one thing (and largely unchallenged, too, which is another problem)… but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the way Grant used Pete’s autism to build this world.  I wonder how much (if at all) the author researched autism before writing him?  When Hunger was published, sensitivity readers were less common; in the modern era, I like to think the publishing house would have noted Grant’s ableist depiction of Pete and sought sensitivity readers.  Pete is constantly “othered” and because this is a series for young adults (and a very popular one at that) there is some responsibility to be kind and accurate in portraying autistic characters.  As well as the racial diverse characters, characters across the sexuality spectrum…. everyone.

There’s a lot of cruelty and hateful language in Hunger.  Given the state of the world they’re living in and their depleting food supplies, this is not unexpected but it was uncomfortable.  There a poorly-handled representation of an eating disorder (my understanding is this gets worse as the series continues) as well as an attempted lynching.  It’s unsettling, but not in the way The Hunger Games is unsettling.  It’s in a world a little too close to modernity, so maybe it was just uncomfortable for me… but I also think there were some choices and language used that were overly cruel and not challenged.

The lack of challenging these things was the most difficult for me.  Have your villains be villainous.  But your heroes should balance them out.

This book is dark, and it’s okay that it’s dark… but it feels written a bit carelessly.  There was so much going on with the characters (or rather… not really going on but we needed to see it all) that the plot crawled by, and by the end of the book, I wasn’t sucked in.  I was relieved.  It has the feel of a work by an already successful author who is churning out books with little care of the worlds and people within them.  The only thing I will personally remember from Hunger is how utterly disappointed I was with the development of the characters and the carelessness of the language.

Perhaps I’m a crone, but I think there are far better books for young adults out there than this series, especially because it is so haphazard with its language and the token depiction of diverse characters.  An intriguing dystopian storyline and an adult-free world does not forgive these things.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★ 1/2
Characters:
Writing: ★ 1/2
Pacing:
Narrator: 
Personal Enjoyment:

1 and a half stars

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Code Orange Problematic Author History

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If you had to hunt and forage for yourself – as the teens in Perdido Beach are trying to do – do you think you’d survive?  If I was in New England, I think I would be okay with plants, but I absolutely cannot hunt, so I’d be short on protein.  Tell me how you’d survive in the comments!

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2 responses to “Hunger by Michael Grant

  1. I’d be dead so quick. I don’t eat most meat already, and I think I could live off plants (and the odd fish, if I could figure out how to make a rod) but I don’t think I’d last very long. I don’t think I could kill a non-fish animal even if I was starving, or force myself to eat an insect. Ick.

    • Amber

      Same! My husband’s family hunts and while objectively I know that in some areas of the States, the deer population is out of control because of the lack natural predators, I also… just… I like deer? Maybe if I got hungry enough I’d feel differently, but plush and cozy right now, I can’t imagine taking an animal’s life to sustain myself.