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I Belong

Early Review: Hungry by H.A. Swain

hungryTitle: Hungry

Author: H. A. Swain

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: N/A

Publication DateJune 3, 2014

FormatHardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250028299 (MacTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-1250028297 (MacTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


In Thalia’s world, there is no more food and no need for food, as everyone takes medication to ward off hunger. Her parents both work for the company that developed the drugs society consumes to quell any food cravings, and they live a life of privilege as a result. When Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that there is an entire world outside her own. She also starts to feel hunger, and so does the boy. Are the meds no longer working?

Together, they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food. It’s a journey that will change everything Thalia thought she knew. But can a “privy” like her ever truly be part of a revolution?

Quick & Dirty: I didn’t have high expectations for this novel, but even I was let down by the multitude of things wrong with the book overall.

Opening Sentence: In the ghostly branches of a hologram tree, the light winks off something red and round.


The Review:

Thaila Apple lives in a world where there is no food necessary. One World treats all citizens with free Synthanil that provides nutrients, and is very strict on these no food laws. It’s only to protect everyone…right? Thaila will learn to fight back against an unfair government and fall in love against all odds in Hungry, a new novel.

My opinion about this book went back and forth so quickly, but here is my conclusion: this book confused me. Not in the “I haven’t the slightest idea what’s happening way”, but the “sometimes it’s great but there are too many problems” kind. I’ll put it this way. The plot overall? Lots of potential. I’ll admit, when I read the synopsis it sounded cheesy, and the people on Goodreads agreed. I quote directly- “I think they’re running out of ideas for YA books”. These were my thoughts at first as well, but getting into the story I saw that really, the rebellion about the food connected to more than just eating, but to being free and having other certain rights. However, so many tiny things didn’t work for me that they spoiled the rest of the novel. I’ll start with the romance. Usually forbidden romances really get me involved with the story emotionally, but the only emotion I feel towards this couple was irritation. They fought every other sentence, and either they are completely in love or in a full-blown war, and I can tell you that I was not impressed. Then, they forgave each other at the blink of an eye! What?

Another problem was that so much was going on. I never really kept up with where they were and what they were doing because the characters moved on so fast. Apple’s main goals kept changing, from meeting up with her family to escaping One World once and for all. I didn’t get to know any of the characters except Yaz, who had the only interesting personality in this whole book, give or take a few mostly unimportant people. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous names that some of them had. Zara, Thaila Apple, Basil, they were either foods or strange. That might have been okay if I didn’t get some of them confused so easily, especially Zara and Haza, who I couldn’t keep straight for the life of me.

I will definitely admit there are things that Hungry did right. For one, it got me to really feel the tone of the pages, even if most of my strong emotions were disgust (especially around the climax). The world building was expertly done, even if it was hard to understand at first. I could imagine myself living in this world of secrets and technology, playing with the interactive Hedgy like Apple did in one scene, fighting her mother with her. My thoughts toward dear ‘ole momma are scrambled like my thoughts on the rest of the book, but I don’t trust her.

If you are a fan of Matched by Allie Condie, you might be interested in trying this out. I’m not sure if you will gain more clarity about it than I did, but I certainly hope so. The writing style isn’t horrible, but as I said, lots of problems made me disappointed, many of which I did not list. I can’t see this book rising to fame anytime soon, but then again, maybe I’m wrong.

Notable Scene:

The texture is strange. Bumpy. Almost rubbery. I start to gag but then my mouth fills with spit. I move the berry to the side of my mouth, between my teeth and my cheek and I suck, drawing out small gulps of pleasure. When that’s not enough, I cautiously bite down. A sweet, tart juice in released. “Oh my god!”


FTC Advisory: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Hungry. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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