Review: Hungry by H.A. Swain
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Expected Publication: June 3, 2014
In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.
In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.
Hungry can best be described as a mixture of Otherborn by Anna Silver, Deliver Me by Kate Jarvik Birch with a smidgen of Soylent Green by Harry Harrison thrown in for good measure . If you liked any of those books than no doubt you'll like Hungry.
One of the things I really liked about this story was seeing how people adjusted to life without food. No food meant very little time during the day was spent as a family doing normal family things like jostling for bathroom rights (they pee like once a day) in the morning or talking about your day over meals. Just pop the top off that days vial, gulp it down and head out the door. In the story it definitely seemed that the younger generation had an easier time since they could be placated with all the latest gadgets and gizmos to occupy their time now that they didn't need to eat regularly or even need to be physically seen by their parents since technology was so grand it found a way around that as well. However, I do wish we had seen more from the older generation. While we do see Adults. It would've been great to see some old people wistfully sitting in front of shops remembering what it was like to sit, chat and eat with friends.
Another thing that I found sorta cool was the way that Thalia and Basil were able to change their appearances so drastically to hide themselves while on the run. The spalon they visit to do so was like a trumped up version of the prep team from The Hunger Games. Except instead of Cinna, Octavia, Flavius and Venia we only have the oh so fabulous Fiyo to deal with.
Lastly, I really liked Thalia's Grandmother. I love how she stubbornly clung to the old ways even though she was forced to eat the Inocs like everyone else. She's a shining example of never forgetting one's roots figuratively speaking of course. Plus she passed down helpful knowledge to Thalia that I hope she'll retain and use in future books.
Now even though I really enjoyed the majority of Hungry, the story was not without some faults that ultimately kept me from rating the book higher.
First off, the ending while a cliff hanger did leave me scratching my head. Was Thalia dreaming that scene with the delivery or was it taking place as she was dreaming about something else entirely?? I reread that ending several times to try and clarify but I'm still hopelessly confused on what was actually taking place.
Secondly, near the end, the story goes off into some bizarre direction where this Gaia lady is breeding an army of devout followers because she can, I guess. No, really, it is seriously messed up and at one point I might even have dry heaved onto my copy of Hungry because of a particular scene involving the reasons for the monthly offering given to the "Doctor" employed by Gaia. On its own the plot twist could have been interesting but after a similar plot (Mother Earth wannabe combined with Basil's blind devotion not the ick factor) in the beginning of the book it felt sorta repetitive and for me lessened the impact of what was going on.
Lastly, I think my biggest issue with the story was that the world was so advanced technology wise yet it's almost laughable that the Author is seriously telling me not one person could think of a way to grow crops again even if they wanted. It just didn't seem possible for that particular society. Yes, I understand that the corporation behind the inocs wanted to remain in power and that's a driving force of the novel but I don't buy that every person is happy never eating real food or drinking anything beyond water once or twice a day to the point they would never devise a way to have back what was lost. It just was a bit too unbelievable if you catch my drift.
Hungry by H.A. Swain might not be the next latest and greatest Dystopian blockbuster to come on the market but I found it at least to be a very enjoyable read (for the most part).
So, I guess that begs the question, Would I recommend Hungry? The answer in short is Yes, yes, I would. Like I said above, I found it enjoyable for the most part and I'm certainly curious what the next book may hold for Thalia and Basil after that ending that's for sure. With that being said, I'll be rating Hungry by H.A. Swain ★★★★.
*Copy reviewed provided by publisher. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
About the Author
H. A. Swain is the author of several previous books, including the adult fiction title Cold Feet; the craft book Make These Toys; and the YA novel Josie Griffin Is Not a Vampire. She lives in Brooklyn.