“Food ran out weeks ago and starvation is imminent. Meanwhile, the normal teens have grown resentful of the kids with powers. And when an unthinkable tragedy occurs, chaos descends upon the town. There is no longer right or wrong. 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.”
After reading the first book, there was only one thing that I found myself caring little about: the powers. While important, it played so little into the unfolding stories of the book–save for the battle scenes that, I must admit, were really cool. But there were seeds planted in Gone that fully blooms here in the second book. After the battle of good and evil, where good seemingly won, the battle moves inward. With the normal kids fighting against the super-powered ones.
Hunger continues to tell its story with an ensemble cast. Unlike in the first book though, this one introduces a sub-story starring one of the smaller characters in the first book, Albert, which I want to discuss first.
Back in Gone, I liked the character of Albert because he was a normal kid whose common sense was a breath of fresh air from all the super-powered shenanigans happening all over the place. And, for the most part, that remains unchanged. For the most part. The awkwardness that stemmed from being the runt of a huge family seems to have disappeared. This makes sense because he’s slowly finding his place in town. But the common sense that separated him from the other characters in the first book seems to be giving way to ambition in Hunger. And I must say, I don’t like where it seems to be going.
It’s gradual. Albert, for the most part, still has great ideas for their community. The plans he execute are actually very smart. Too smart for a teenager, but we’ll suspend our disbelief. But the last leg of his Hunger journey has me scratching my head. In what universe is it smart to use bullets as currency? Especially around kids who are ready to wage war against each other? Where there are guns aplenty, and no one is regulating their use?
That way leads to a lot of stupid mistakes. And I can’t believe this came from Albert. Unless the author reveals a sudden twist in the next book where Albert was replaced by an agent of darkness. Who knows.
The reason why I bring up this sub-story is because I feel like this will play a bigger role in the next books. Much like the other sub-story that, I feel, should’ve been the one in the spotlight: the normals versus the freaks.
It’s discrimination. There are no pretensions about it, as one character explicitly points it out. And in a post-apocalyptic setting where mob mentality rules the mostly kid population? It’s a very interesting premise that, I feel, falters in the end. No one even dies.
I’m sure there are reasons for there no being casualties. And I don’t think author Michael Grant is afraid of killing off characters, as evidenced in the first chapter of this book. But I do feel that something bigger should’ve happened with this story before the book ended. I just hope there’s more to this storyline in the next book.
With the sub-stories aside, let’s move on to the main plot: which is hard to put into paper. You have Sam who is dealing with leadership issues, Caine who is holding on dearly to his crumbling dictatorship, and then there’s the Darkness–and its hold on a number of our main characters, and its plans of being released out of the mine shaft.
In the first book, the Darkness felt a little tacked on. Again, as I said, the powers really do feel like a latch on in Gone. But in this book, the Darkness is explored further as a character. Sort of. It’s definitely used more to explore the characters of Lana the healer and Caine. Which, I thought, was a great use for the monster in the shaft. Just not a very complete use. I mean, by the end of the book, it felt like the Darkness was one of the monsters that the Power Rangers fought week after week, presented as the strongest force, as something to fear–and then defeated by the end of an episode.
Unless, again, it plays a bigger role in the next book. How? I don’t know as I haven’t started reading the third book yet.
What I really want to discuss though is Sam’s character.
Sam who was an amazing flawed protagonist in the first book mutated into something of a whiny baby in Hunger. Aside from the first chapter, I don’t think there was a single scene in which Sam did not complain about his circumstances. Sure, he didn’t ask to be made leader–but he accepted it. And while it’s understandable for him to feel the pressure of the job, we didn’t have to be reminded of it every single time he appears.
It reached a point when I sought refuge in the scenes that revolved around other characters. Even horribly underused new characters who seemed to have been introduced just to serve as canon fodder.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed reading the book, but it’s not exactly the most perfect book written. But, I must say, Hunger being not perfect makes it the perfect book to have discussions with. And it’s not like the book turned me off the series. I already bought the third and fourth book, actually.