Hungry by H. A. Swain is a chilling portrayal of what our future could be if our society continues down its current trajectory as well as a coming-of-age story about a girl named Thalia when she realizes her world is much different than she thought. I have to admit that there are days when I wish I could just chug my Synthamil and not have to plan what meals to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but a world without chocolate is obviously unacceptable! Hungry is a refreshing combination of believable future technologies, friend and family relationships that actually make sense, and a dystopian society that gets back to the grittier roots of the genre. There is of course also the adorable but forbidden romance, but since Hungry is a standalone you don’t have to worry about love triangle developing ;-).
Note: I received Hungry from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Hungry by H. A. Swain
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 3rd, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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.
- The premise of Hungry is hauntingly believable. We’re already trying to synthesize and prepackage food as much as we can, so it isn’t hard to imagine a world where you just drink your perfectly calibrated nutritional beverage in the morning and at night. Add to that the idea of a world where we can’t produce enough actual food to support the population, and you end up in the scary but very believable world of Hungry.
- As a computer science nerd, I can’t help but evaluate what technological gadgets are included in futuristic settings, but Hungry is spot on in the technology the future could have. Self-driving cars? Handheld gadgets that make recommendations on who you would want to befriend and what new attraction you’ll enjoy? People so completely immersed in their virtual worlds that physical contact is now frowned upon? Not too hard to believe right??
- Thalia made for a solid main character. She definitely felt like a teenager, but that is both because she is rather offended when the world isn’t how she thought it was and because she grows quickly and passionately throughout Hungry. She starts as an adorable nerd who just likes to hack into systems and bother the status quo, but has to change quickly as her world shifts. I liked who she was at the start and I loved who she was by the end of Hungry.
- I’m really enjoying this trend of parents and extended family playing a larger role in young adult stories. Thalia is best friends with her grandmother and her dad as soon as Hungry starts. She has a typically rocky relationship with her mother, but the bonds with her family continue to play a major role throughout Hungry; so good to see!
- Hungry is a standalone! I was a little nervous about how it was going to wrap everything up as I got to the end, but it manages to end at a very satisfying point and tells a complete story without falling to the temptation of dragging things out into multiple books.
- I can’t help being overly critical of science in sci-fi books, so this isn’t something that will bother most of you I’m sure. For the most part, Hungry handles the science of how people could be genetically engineered to no longer feel Hunger, but that just made the few mistakes regarding how mutations work stand out more to me.
- Thalia and Basil are pretty cute most of the time, but they start to get annoying at various points when their whole “from different worlds” tension gets brought up over and over again. A lot of the plot gets moved along because one of them does something foolish and the other goes along to try to help diffuse the situation….
- Hungry is a bit strange because there are no chapters (at least not in the ARC, if this gets changed I’ll update!). It is broken up into four parts, but if you are one of those readers who has to stop at chapter breaks, you might be in for a late night.
Hungry by H. A. Swain is an excellent futuristic sci-fi and a breath of fresh air in the YA dystopian trend. It incorporates a lot of the more classic sci-fi elements since it backs up the premise with believable science and technology, while still being exceedingly readable with a cute romance for YA fans. There will always be a part of me that wants a sequel of every good book in order to find out more about the world, but Hungry tells an excellent story as a standalone. I definitely recommend Hungry for fans of YA that loved the dystopian trend but got sick of the tropes!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Hungry by H.A. Swain
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.