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Hunger follows Gone: Michael Grant Gets Gross

By: 17 June 2010 5 Comments

ROGERS – The kids, being kids without adult supervision, eat all the junk food first.

The cookies, candy bars, sodas and burritos get gobbled, while perfectly good meat and produce rots in the supermarket cases and the refrigerators and freezers in empty houses.

Such is the scenario in Hunger,the sequel to Michael Grant’s Gone, which I reviewed on April 25.

The premise is that all adults, for that matter anyone 15 years old or older, poofed out. The remaining teens and children in Perdido Beach, Calif., are cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious wall encircling the town.

It hurts when you touch the wall. You can’t go around it, through it, over it or under it. And it goes deep beneath the ocean.

There’s still no way out. The food is running low. Crops are rotting in nearby fields, and the kids decide to try and harvest them. The teens and children are desperate enough to eat cabbage and carrots after Albert runs out of supplies and no longer can run the former McDonald’s.

That’s when they discover the zekes, vicious snakelike creatures who are evolved and think as one, act as one, turn on the humans as one. The descriptions of what they do to flesh are graphic, and will disturb sensitive children or those younger than 13 or 14. Older teens or those with a grasp on the real versus make-believe can handle it.

The zekes are all in the soil where the crops are planted and even manage to work their way through the cheek of Orc, the concrete boy whose only flesh left is one side of his face.

The teens who developed powers after the near nuclear meltdown that they think caused the FAYZ – Fallout Youth Zone, as they call the walled-off from the world area – still have powers. More kids develop more powers, including one boy who becomes a human drill and disappears into the Earth after bullies disturb his idyllic afternoon in a swimming pool.

Little Pete is still autistic and having odd dreams, which birth real nightmarish creatures who hover in the darkness in the rooms of houses in the FAYZ.

Lana still is healing, but is getting tired of being called to use her powers for every scratch and paper cut. She winds up disappearing herself, to confront the green glowing dark being beneath the old gold mine who seems to get into people’s heads and make them do bad things.

Sam still is the teen leader, trying to maintain order in chaos, but his nerves too are wearing thin as everyone constantly turns to him for every decision.
Albert is ever the entrepreneur, thinking he can use Sam’s laser hands to melt the gold down in the old mine and make currency for the FAYZ.

But evil still lurks, including in the hearts and minds of desperate teens hungry for power, hungry for food and stressed from facing adult challenges in the absence of adults.

There is a major showdown at the end in the power plant, and the book ending clearly sets up a sequel.

HarperTeen Katherine Tegen Books An imprint of HarperCollins Copyright 2009

I am not ashamed to say that I was weirded out by some of the passages and the violence, especially when the boy known as Whip Hand does some serious damage to a main character.
My 12-year-old daughter, Layla Flowers, enjoyed the book. She is grounded in reality, very smart and knows Hunger is imaginary.

“I think it stood up well as the sequel to Gone, even though Gone was very action-packed,” she said.

“It was violent and a little gory. It does weird you out, but that is kind of the point of the book. I don’t recommend reading it right before bed,” Layla Flowers said. “It is very cool and intriguing.”

Though it is not among my favorites, I can see how teenage boys, hungry for action, would enjoy Hunger. They might pass it to their friends, the way girls and their moms eat up Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight saga.

Research shows that  boys and literacy are getting left behind.

Michael W. Smith and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm in Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men (Heinemann, 2002), provided insights on gender and literacy:

• Boys take longer to learn to read than girls do.
• Boys read less than girls read.
• Girls tend to comprehend narrative texts and most expository texts significantly better than boys do.
• Boys value reading as an activity less than girls do.

Smith and Wilhelm also note that boys read less fiction than do girls, but boys like humor and escapism. They also are attracted to science fiction and fantasy.

Hunger certainly is about a fantastic world and provides escapism from mundane chores, homework and errands with the parents.

Anything that might get boys reading can’t be too bad.

Just don’t let them read Hunger right before bed.

About: Lana F. Flowers:
Lana F. Flowers is a gifted Arkansas reporter who can handle news about Walmart and retail, movie and book reviews, human interest stories, features and anything else you'd care to mention. She lives in Rogers, Ark., with her husband Jesse, daughter Layla, cats Lottie Boots and Emmy, and dog Fuzzy. Send an email -- fashionablewords@yahoo.com

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