Series: Gone #2
Published by HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen Books on 26th May 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 590 (Hardcover)
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It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.
Three months since all the adults disappeared. GONE.
Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers. Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.
But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.
The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.
Lengthier, grander in scope, and significantly darker than the already mature Gone, the second installment in Grant’s ambitious series is a marvelous sequel that is much better than its predecessor.
And while I desperately wanted to give this one a perfect rating, I couldn’t bring myself to award that final star. In the behemoth that is Hunger, Grant manages to fix some of the nagging problems that Gone contained, but he simultaneously leaves others to grow worse. This book isn’t a perfect work, but it’s a lot of fun, and the author does a lot of things right. The story is still wildly intriguing, and has grown even more convoluted (which I say in the most complimentary way possible). The world-building is bigger and better, with several new twists and revelations. The characters, both old and new, are easy to connect with and root for.
Because this series is a rather lengthy one, I’m not going to bother exploring every aspect of every installment. If you read Gone and enjoyed it, then you’ll be reading the sequels. If you didn’t, then you probably won’t be bothering. Simple, right? Nothing that I say here is likely going to convince you one way or another. I will, however, tell you this:
From what I’ve seen so far, this series improves dramatically as it goes. While, at heart, nothing substantially changes from one installment to the next, the smaller things do. As such, those of you who really disliked Gone will probably have a similar experience with the sequels. If your feelings toward the first book are mixed, than I wholeheartedly recommend that you give Hunger a try, as it may be good enough to convince you to continue on with the story.
Haven’t started the series yet? If you’re considering giving it a try (and I urge you to do so), I would recommend that you go and look at my review of the first book. It covers all of the important stuff that is essential to this story as a whole, which why this review is quite a bit shorter than that one.
Now, enough of that. Let’s take a look at Hunger. That’s what you’re here for, right?
1. In this sequel, the story takes a darker turn than its already rather macabre predecessor, and contains some pretty disturbing scenes as a result. If the violence of Gone struck you as unrealistic or unsettling, than you’ll likely have problems with this. Personally, I found it riveting, and I applaud Grant for having the nerve to take his narrative into such territory. There is much more to the plot this time around, with more perspectives and side stories, and several interesting developments that further a tale that was already brimming with oddities. Grant continues his knack for throwing out new twists and surprises at a constant rate, and I guarantee that you’ll have a difficult time putting this one down because of it. New storylines and mysteries, some grounded in reality and others more extraordinary, are added to the mix, while answers to previous enigmas are simultaneously provided. As Grant tends to do, however, these explanations usually provide more questions than they solve, but that’s just part of the fun. Even if I loathed this series, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I continued to read it simply to get answers.
I would go into more depth, but I would hate to spoil anything for those who have yet to get this far. Grant’s imagination (he may very well be certifiably insane) is the standout aspect of this series, and giving any piece of it away would be a major disservice to potential fans.
2. As I had hoped, the writing has improved tremendously since Gone. Though Grant’s style will never be the most sophisticated or poetic, it has certainly grown more mature here, with fewer instances of awkward phrasing or frustrating plainness. Several passages are downright powerful. Though the words used tend to be simple, Grant is oftentimes able to combine them in impressive ways, and I applaud his ability to do so.
3. Lastly, the expanded cast of characters is explored to a greater degree, which helps flesh out the world of the FAYZ wonderfully. Players that had only a brief role in Gone are given much more depth here, and several new characters are introduced as well. Each addition gives the story an interesting new dynamic, though, as they like to proclaim on those infomercials that air at three in the morning, the results may vary for you. Some are infuriating, some are charming, and some are simply bizarre.
1. The only two problems that I really had with Gone involved the writing and the instances of discontinuity. While the former is (mostly) fixed here, the latter only gets worse. This book is littered with inconsistency, and it’s incredibly frustrating. Some of these instances stretch across the first two books in the series, with some aspects of Hunger being noticeably different from how they were left in Gone, while others are contained within this installment alone. Heck, at one point, Grant blatantly contradicts himself within the space of three sentences. And unlike the first book, where most of the discontinuity was centered on very small, unimportant details, several of Hunger‘s issues with cohesion revolve around rather significant points, such as the backstory of a particular relationship between two major characters. Once again, I had to flip through the pages numerous times in order to read and reread various scenes in an attempt to reconcile certain facts, and doing so slowed my progress to an exasperating crawl at some points.
2. While the writing is much better, I nevertheless feel the need to point out that there are several blatant grammatical errors in the writing. For the reader who notices the little details, this is very annoying. Methinks that Grant may need a new editor.
It’s flawed, but Hunger is still a fantastic sequel that has me anxiously awaiting the next installment. It’s only going to get crazier from here on out, isn’t it?
The Score So Far
1. Hunger (4 stars)
2. Gone (3 1/2 stars)