There are four words that summarise Hunger by Michael Grant quite nicely, something that is said in the book and on its blurb - Hungry in the darkness.
A slightly longer, albeit still short, summary is probably required though.
Sam Temple is fifteen years old. Three months ago, all the adults vanished. Poof. (Note: Gone is the first book in the series, the events of which have led to Hunger.) In three months, the food began to get low in Perdido Beach, a small town in California (small, but with its own Nuclear Power Station, which is possibly also small, relative to other Nuclear Power Stations). In three months, more kids have developed powers - more kids are mutants. In three months, Sam Temple has been dealing with the problems of everyone. And as the food runs out and the town find fields of food ripe for the picking, things seem to get easier.
But the kids aren't the only ones mutating...
I think that's about as far as I can go with the summary without spoiling the book for you. The real surprises begin to unfold early on, and I can promise you that they are wonderful ideas! Onto the review!
Is this book worth reading? Unless you've read Gone no. I wouldn't recommend starting the series at book two. So go read the first book before you read this (reviewed here). Now, assuming you've read Gone, liked it, and are wondering if you should continue - yes! You have to continue! In fact, you have to start the series if you haven't already. It's YA writing at its best, and it's a fabulous idea for a book (I wish I'd had it!)
But, isn't this series "too weird"? Someone once said that it was. She was wrong. Well, not wrong, but her bias of the series wasn't due - she clearly hadn't read the book. The series is weird, but that's the point. You can't exactly tell a normal story about everyone over the age of fifteen disappearing!
What about those weird numbers on the back? Ah the weird numbers; what this question refers to is: 106 hours 29 minutes. That's how long the book goes on for, before the crisis can be averted, or the characters FAIL. I won't tell you what the crisis is, because that's a spoiler, a big spoiler, but I'll tell you that the timer really helps keep the reader going. When you see those last few minutes creeping by, that time running out, you can't help but think, "Here we go!" and expect a big BANG!! Those numbers on the back of the book are anticipation brewing inside the reader, involuntarily.
Okay, so is Hunger as good as Gone? Most definitely. In fact, it's at least as good as Gone! I can't say for sure whether I loved it more, but I certainly didn't love it less. Definitely loved it though, that much is clear.
What's next? Presumably Michael Grant plans on releasing the third book before the fourth book. The third book, Lies, is due out in 2010 (May in the US, September in the UK, I believe). And, as far as I have discerned from Twitter, Grant is coming to the UK for the release of Lies.
Now, I'm just curious, but is this series as good as other books you've reviewed? I'd go as far as to say it's actually one of the best series of books I've started reading. I'm still a huge fan of Darren Shan until the end, so I can never place anything higher than him on the charts, but it's definitely better than The Seventh Tower series by Garth Nix, and the Hero.com and Villain.net books by Andy Briggs. Okay, so the age difference is there, but I still think the idea for the Gone series is better - it fulfills every kids dreams: all the adults are gone, and the kids are superheroes. But it also shows that dreams aren't all that fun when they actually happen (you know, because of the hunger thing...)
Now, what are you waiting for? Go read that book!