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Hungry by H. A. Swain ARC {4 Stars}

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 ARC {4 Stars}

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
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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.

4 Stars


  • 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!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Hungry by H.A. Swain

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. It’s been so long since I’ve stopped by here! I’ve kind of fallen off the map for a while but I’m trying to come back and check out more blogs again :)

    This is a really great review. You’re right, the premise sounds scarily reasonable. Think of all the juice cleanses and weird things people are doing already! It’s refreshing that this book is a standalone, and I love that you got to see Thalia’s family. But one of my pet peeves is “because science and genes and fancy words that sound smart!”. I’d probably be annoyed by flawed science as well, but it seems like I’d enjoy the rest of the book :)
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    • No worries, I completely understand the feeling!

      Yeah, I think it bothers me most when most things are so reasonable, and then the details are just a bit off, sigh.

  2. The world building in this sounds really cool! I hate characters who cause their own troubles though. They’re one of my least favorite things about YA.

  3. No love triangle and a mostly believable dystopian future? Hmm…I admit the synopsis and cover hadn’t grabbed me before, but I’ll definitely consider this one now. Thanks for the great review!
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  4. This actually reminds me of a short story I read EONS ago on deviantart (I must have been like 12 or something – oh god I’m old). It was set in a future where everyone is restricted to 1200 calories a day, and if you want more you have to work out to raise your limit. When you buy food (In N Out for example) you had to “spend” your calories. It was actually really interesting, mostly because it touched on the theme of how much skinniness is glorified in today’s culture and how all these teens were supposed to be happy because they were size zeros. Of course now I think, hmm not so sure that’s medically plausible for some people, especially since I went on a 1200 calorie a day (with working out) diet and because of my thyroid issues I didn’t lose weight at all. And now I need to go hunt it down again… And really get off this tangent. SORRY ANYA IGNORE ME

    Anyhoo, I really like the idea of this novel! It definitely sounds like the kind of dystopia I’m interested, asking the “what if” type questions. I’ll make sure to check it out when I’m at the store next :)

    • Haha, no that was an excellent tangent! I love this sort of premise for stories because it is an excellent chance to bring up all the problems with a one-size-fits-all diet! Different people need way different amounts of calories for their day and what kind of calories you eat matters a lot. This is the kind of sci-fi I love :D

  5. Probably not for me but it does sound interesting. That last point would probably stick in my craw!
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    • Haha, yes I can see that being a big factor for some people. It was amusing on Twitter when the group of us reading it realized saying we’d stop after chapter 10 wouldn’t work ;-)

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