Review of Hungry by H.A. Swain

By: H.A. Swain
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Source: ARC

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
When I first read the summary for Hungry I was skeptical; something about the summary struck me a bit unrealistic and on the cheesy side. I decided to put that hesitation aside and  hope to be surprised and impressed. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. For me, there were more negatives aspects to this novel than positives but I’ll try to highlight what I enjoyed first.

The science behind Hungry was intriguing. I felt that Swain’s description of the inocs was more plausible than I expected. I’m not sure I could fathom a society where people did not partake in meals but it was a very interesting premise. The author was capable of writing the most delicious descriptions of food I’ve read. I loved how she communicated the smell, taste and appearance of food to someone that had never seen or tasted it in their lifetime. Our main character, Thalia, had never experienced foods and her only connection to how life with eating was came from her grandmother. The scenes between these two were the strongest to me and I really enjoyed and felt an emotional connection to their relationship.

Now, to the things I was less enthused about–the characters were my biggest issue. Other than Thalia’s grandmother I was not able to connect with any of them. Thalia was the hardest for me to enjoy reading about and since this was her story it didn’t do well for me. I also couldn’t get behind Thalia and Basil at all. I felt that there was little to no chemistry between them and their moments of bickering were realistic but not enjoyable to read.

Another thing that threw me off from the ARC (and this might be different in the finished copy) was the lack of chapters. Without the chapter breaks this novel felt very, very long to me. I mentioned before that even from reading the summary I feared that this book would be cheesy? The fact that a large amount of characters had food names just hit me all wrong. Turnip, Apple, Basil, etc….it just did not work for me. I can’t take a character named Turnip seriously. Granted this was a side character but still.

The pacing in this book felt very disjointed to me. A large majority of the book was focused on Thalia seeing her world for what it truly was. None of her discoveries surprised me and read rather slow. Once things got moving there was a lot of running from the authorities with small sections of Basil and Thalia confessing their love and attraction to one another. The last third of the book was completely random and I can’t go into details because of spoilers but it really felt disconnected from the rest of the book to me. Oddly enough I found the ending to be the most fast paced section of the book and even veering on the side of rushed.

Final Thoughts:
I could go on about the additional things that didn’t work that well for me about Hungry but I think it’s fairly clear that this book and I did not get along well. I commend Swain for the science bits included in her story but overall I wasn’t a fan of the characters and pacing.


  1. says

    I have heard quite a few more negative reviews, so yours just cemented the fact that I won’t be reading this one.
    Thanks for a great honest review, Kristen!

    • says

      I have heard a few people really enjoying it and I wanted to very badly. I thought there were some really interesting bits but overall didn’t work for me at all. 🙁

  2. says

    *Hugs* <3 Amazing review sweetie. I'm still so sorry that we both hated this book. Ack. But also glad we felt the same way, hiih. But yesss. I also hated so much about this book. It just.. it wasn't good, was it? Sigh. It sucks when a book we want to be good just isn't at all. Sigh. Thank you for being honest and sharing, though. <3 🙂

    • says

      I’m sorry we hated it too. I didn’t have very high expectations but man…it couldn’t even live up to my low expectations. I did enjoy some aspects but the characters and overall plot. bleh.

  3. says

    I have been seeing pictures of this pop up on my instagram for months and to be fair it did look pretty good!

    So first of, the positives. I really like the sound of the science behind the whole the novel. I am glad it looks somewhat authentic.

    it is such a shame you did not like this one. The fact that it does not have chapters would put me off so much. It is something I have never thought of before but I think that would genuinely be a deal breaker for me!

    Thanks for sharing & great review! 🙂 xx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

    • says

      I hope that in the final version they add in chapters because it made the reading experience awkward! I never knew I would hate that so much but I did. The science was fun but that’s all I enjoyed 🙁

  4. says

    The premise does sound kind of cheesy. The characters are so important, and I’m with you – if you can’t connect with them and just don’t care about them like you’re supposed to, then it isn’t a good fit.

    • says

      Yeah, the cheesy sounding plot was cheesy. I wished I could have connected to the characters because if I could have and felt some chemistry between them I could ignore the more cheesy parts.

    • says

      This was the first book I’ve read that didn’t have chapters! I’m not a fan. Thinking they might change that in the FC. I’ll be curious to see if they do.

  5. says

    Yeah, I don’t think this book’s for me, either. I don’t think I could stand no chapters and all of the food names. I just couldn’t take those characters seriously. This sounds way too cheesy. ;(

  6. says

    “Hi, Turnip, I’m Stephanie. Nice to meet you.” Yup, ridiculous. This is a good time to mention that at a company where I used to work, I received a group email, and I scanned through the names and saw a “Velveeta.” VELVEETA!

    I’m sort of more curious to read this now to see how the author attempts to pull off the “no more food thing.” It sounds like it wasn’t successful.

  7. says

    The summary had me a little skeptical, too. I’ve read reviews from people who enjoyed it, but I don’t think this one will work for me. The disjointedness and lack of pacing you mentioned sound less than appealing. Thanks for the great review!

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