Sep 12, 2015

Review: Hungry by H.A. Swain


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Title: Hungry
Author: H.A. Swain
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Published June 2014
Hardcover, 384 Pages
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Summary: 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.
I bought a copy of this book at The Strand after BookCon this past May, and I was super excited to get into it because I've heard that so many people enjoyed it. Even though the plot itself made me a little weary - really? Searching for real food? It seemed to me like authors were running out of future societal problems and this one seemed a bit odd and far-fetched. Still, I was eager to give it a chance. 

My overall reaction to this book can be summed up in one word: Meh. I wasn't impressed - my one thought on this book is that it was really just "okay." Nothing super huge and shocking. I saw a lot of resemblances to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, with the cosmetic surgeries and special sci-fi screen time and electric malls and all of that stuff. There was also way too much world-building in one shot for me. The book starts off barely explaining anything and leaving you super confused, and then all at once all of the world-building info that you need to know it flung at you. So it's a lot to take on.

I also feel that the book spent way too much time on less important plot points and barely any time at all on the stuff that needed to be talked about, especially in the end. If you haven't read the book yet or don't want it spoiled for you please skip the rest of this paragraph and proceed to the next one! A whole majority of the last portion of the book was Thalia and her life on the creepy farm. Yes, I know that some of those creepy things needed to be talked about that contributed to the plot, but it was just so drawn out. And then at the end with the fighting and the resistance movement and everything, I feel that everything was so rushed. I definitely got the vibe that the author was tired of dragging out the story and tried to hurriedly wrap it up - but you're left with so many questions! What happened to Ella, and the old man, and everyone else? Does Thalia ever get back to her family? What happened to her family that ended up in them not being killed by One World? What happened to One World? WHAT WENT ON?

Overall, the ending of the book just left me with too many questions for my taste, and as of right now there seems to be no intention of there ever being a sequel. I'm also going to take this time to add that the epilogue didn't really help me out, like, at ALL. It didn't answer anything or give any insight to anything, really. There's so much I wanted to know that I didn't get to find out and it left me feeling really dissatisfied as a reader.

I feel that the actual style of the book threw me off as well. First of all, there were no chapters, so every time I told myself I would stop reading for the night after I finished a chapter, I got more and more confused when I would spend an hour longer reading without any real break other than the "* * * * *" asterisk lines. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable as a reader because I never got a real chance to pause and digest what I read unless it was right before a new "Part" started, which wasn't very often. Long story short, I felt very rushed.

The actual writing style left me feeling a little bit off, too. There were commas in unnecessary places, and a lack of them where there needed to be. Some of the things Thalia said and thought seemed either a bit too childish or a bit too unrealistic for a seventeen year old girl. A lot of the dialogue felt forced. The comma thing may not have anything to do with the author at all, so the author wouldn't be faulted in that case. But Thalia's actual words and thoughts sometimes seemed a bit too unrealistic and cheesy. Towards the end of the book I realized that I wasn't finishing it so much because I was dying to know what would happen - more because I just wanted it to be over.

What I did enjoy about this book was A) The cover - the fork beckoning the reader closer is definitely something cute and creative that impressed me. I also liked Thalia's father - especially as you learn more and more about him throughout the book and the things he's done and the places he's come from. Also, some of the things that Thalia learns on her journey to spark the revolution (I.E. The Farm!) were total creepy plot twists that I wasn't expecting - although in the same token, I called some of the other plot twists (such as the doctor) way early and felt cheated because it was built up to be shocking when I knew of it beforehand because the clues were so simple.

All in all, Hungry was an okay read for me that I wasn't a huge fan of. There is still a large group of readers who thoroughly enjoyed this book, however, so I don't think that you should use this review as an excuse to take the book off your TBR - it deserves a fair chance! I'm extremely picky when it comes to any genre other than Contemporary so my opinions are based on that. The book wasn't horrible to me, but it also wasn't anything spectacular. I'd still pick up an H.A. Swain book in the future with the hopes of liking it more than I liked this book, though!


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