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Hunger is a fantastic follow on to author Michael Grant's Gone; a novel which portrayed the after effects of a town where everyone over the age of 15 had disappeared and a group of teens were struggling to develop strange new powers. The whole town has been cordoned off by an unbreakable barrier the local children have termed The Fayz (Fallout Alley Youth Zone)
In hunger our Hero Sam Temple is facing a major dilemma. He has defeated his evil brother Caine; who has returned with his army to Coates Academy, and the two of them have managed to resist the strange force that tried to tempt them from The Fayz on their 15th Birthday. Sadly Sam is not entirely sure how to keep the kids in his charge from starving to death. The local McDonalds is now empty, all fruits and veg have gone rotten, and most of the kids are unwilling to go out and pick fresh food for themselves. If that wasn't bad enough strange mutant worms are attacking anyone who does try to grow their own food, and so everybody is slowly starving. In the midst of all this chaos some of the children without powers begin to conclude that Sam is holding onto all of the food for the children with powers, and tensions begin to simmer.
Meanwhile Caine has returned to Coats after an extended visit to an evil entity in the mines beneath the town. This entity; that Caine has named The Gaiaphage, has left its mark on Cain's mind, and now he is struggling to formulate a plan that he suspects the Gaiaphage has secretly instigated. As he attempts to put his plan into motion Cain meets a new girl with the power to enter the dreams of other children, but will Cain be able to use her power to gain an upper hand over the Gaiaphage?
It has to be stated that Hunger is definitely not a standalone book. Reading Gone before hand is essential if you want to have any idea what is going on. At the same time Hunger is a very different beast to the last book. More focus is given on the strains that the role of leadership is having upon the still youthful Sam, while other children struggle to grow up fast enough to assist him.
There is also a greater focus on the villains this time around as Grant develops the sadistic Drake into a threat that most grownups would be afraid of. He also develops the growing relationship between Cain and Dianna, and introduces a few romantic plot threads that he could develop later. However the main thrust of the book seems to be on establishing the Gaiaphage as a legitimate threat to the children. The origins of the Gaiaphage; and its role in the birth of the Fayz, are finally touched upon, and it adds an extra layer of tension to a story that is already bubbling over with suspense.
It must be stated though that this is still very much a young adult novel. The storyline is never overly complicated, and the threats are developed in a way that will attract younger readers. A sense of imagination is definitely a requirement to enjoying this story that wouldn't have been out of place in the pages of a monthly comic book. Although a word of caution I would give is that there are a few scenes; usually involving the character of Drake, that will prove to upset some younger readers.
For me personally however I enjoyed this action packed entry into the 'Gone' Saga and look forward to seeing how the story will develop in the next entry.
Hunger is the second novel in Michael Grant's Gone series, set in a town called Perdido Beach in California where everyone over the age of fifteen suddenly disappeared one day. In Gone, the first novel, the kids who were left struggled with fear of what was happening, and fights amongst themselves. Our hero Sam defeated the rival kids from the posh Coates Academy, who included his brother Caine, who he had never known about. Some of the kids, including Sam, inexplicably developed superpowers; there is also a strange being known as the Darkness living in an abandoned mine in the desert.
Now, in Hunger, Sam has been voted mayor of Perdido Beach, having successfully resisted disappearing on his fifteenth birthday. But all is not well: as the title indicates, food has become scarce, and the kids are looking to Sam and his friends to solve all their problems. On top of that, Caine is recovering from his encounter with the Darkness and making plans again, and some of the "normal" kids in Perdido Beach (that is, those without superpowers) are getting angry, believing that the kids with superpowers aer keeping all the food and supplies for themselves.
Gone was an addictive novel, and Grant has kept up the pace in Hunger, with no let up in the excitement and action. At the end of Gone we knew that food was going to be a problem, but it seemed like Sam would sort everything out. But in Hunger the tone is darker, with constant thoughts of food passing through the characters minds as they have to suffer hunger they have never experienced before, and live on food they would once have turned their noses up at. A smashed jar of hog dog relish, for example, is mourned by one character when he has no other food to eat.
Sam's feelings of being overburdened and helpless were present in Gone, but much more so in Hunger. He is constantly stressed, worried and almost panicky at times. He has no idea how to help everyone, especially when the kids don't seem willing to help themselves by harvesting fields of vegetables. Sam no longer seems like the shining leader he became in Gone, and his outlook contributes greatly to the darker tone of the novel. Between this and the events of Hunger, it is hard to imagine any positive outcome for the FAYZ, or Fallout Alley Youth Zone, as the kids have christened the area they seem to be trapped in.
Additionally, the Darkness is beginning to play a larger role. Caine and Lana, the healer, who both had encounters with it in Gone, can feel it calling to them, urging them to do its bidding. The Darkness is largely unexplained, though we do learn more about it in Hunger, and actually see it. It is the one element of the series which I am unsure about; it seems unnecessary, doesn't entirely make sense, and I have little reaction to it. While showdowns between characters or the tension building in the human story make me desperate to read on, I find I want to hurry past the sections about the Darkness to get to the better parts of the story.
These novels are aimed at young adults, and you can tell this from the style and language used, but for me the story overrides this - it is gripping, exciting and makes you think, and so it doesn't matter who the intended audience is.
I enjoyed Hunger almost as much as Gone, and I can't wait to continue with the series. Definitely recommended to readers of young adult fiction, or those who simply enjoy a good story.