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Hungry Hardcover – June 3, 2014

39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Swain's near-futuristic dystopia explodes onto this well-trod genre with a fresh idea, tense plotting, and relatable characters. Earth's resources, ostensibly decimated by wars and superstorms, have vanished, along with any flora and fauna. Mega-corporation One World swoops in to salvage the remaining humans from starvation by altering their DNA so that they no longer experience any pesky hunger pangs. One World also supplies all nutrition through a formulalike substance called Synthamil. In this world in which any type of food is illegal, Thalia, 17, begins to suffer unexplainable spasms in her abdomen. Instead of being shipped off to a "specialist" to eradicate her natural hunger pangs, as was wont to happen, she seeks out the truth behind the hunger and One World's monopoly on food. She teams up with a non-"privy," Basil, who leads her further into the resistance movement than she would have thought possible. Thalia is faced with a decision—do the easy thing or do the right thing, all while battling her genetic "mutation" that makes her mouth water and her stomach growl. From the Inner Loops to the Outer, to the Hinterlands and beyond, Thalia's journey is fast-paced, scientifically plausible, and scarily possible. The mood is tense, curious—but never relaxed. Swain completes a unique tour de force with Hungry, one that requires readers to examine current society, their place within invisible and sometimes all-too-visible hierarchies, and the consequences of genetic engineering. Fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (McClelland and Stewart, 1985) and Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton Harcourt, 1993) will flock to this story—Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

From Booklist

With a combination of synthetic nutrition and hormone-controlling inoculations that stop the body’s hunger response, science has eradicated the need for food in Swain’s crowded but compelling dystopia. Thalia Apple, 17, is the daughter of influential scientists working for One World, the corporation that developed Synthamil, ended global starvation, and gained total market dominance. Thalia rebels in small ways, like joining the hacker group Dynasaurs to sabotage One World’s pervasive cyber marketing, but she doesn’t truly question the system until she has a reason: she gets hungry. This shameful sensation of a growling stomach and gnawing emptiness leads her to another underground group, where she meets Basil, who shows her what it’s like to be poor and dependent on a profit-driven corporation for nourishment. With solid, transparent writing and timely social commentary, this wild premise works quite well. Though Thalia and Basil follow a predictable arc toward romance and revolution, the privatization of government functions, especially medicine and pharmaceuticals, is a pivotal issue, and Swain semiplausibly imagines the implications. Grades 7-10. --Krista Hutley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250028299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250028297
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #854,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Heather Swain is the author of the young adult novel HUNGRY. She has published four novels for young adults, two craft books for kids, and numerous short stories, personal essays, and non-fiction articles for grown ups. She lives in a crooked house in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children, a barkless dog, and two rescue cats. You can visit her at and, follow her @HeatherASwain, or stop by her Facebook fan page to say hi.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Michelle@Book Briefs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Hungry centers around a very unique plot line. It is a dystopian, and in some ways it is set up very similar to your typical YA dystopian. A power hungry government that demands complete control over it's citizens, while holding onto tons of secrets of their own. But in other ways, Hungry felt very different. The descriptions of the world captivated me. H.A. Swain immerses you in a world in the not so distant future that is so utterly different than the one that we know. There are still some grandparents and parents that were around when the world started running out of food. That is how quick of a timeline we are talking about.

I was confused about some of the background information, and a couple of logistics, like the whole oxygen issue if there were no plants and fauna around, but H.A. Swain quickly sweeps you into her crazy new world and you are lost in the detail and story line. I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn't even think of those questions again until long after I had finished the book.

Thalia is the main character, and from what I can tell her generation is the first generation born into this world of synthetic food drinks that supply you with all the nutrients you need and also make it so that you never feel hungry. I have to admit, that the technology aspect of this world completely fascinated me. The cars, the personal gizmos that everyone had, the social centers, all of it seemed so freakin' cool! I want a personal assistant gizmo and I don't care if that makes me weird that I want something from this creepy society.

Another thing that H.A. Swain did that I thought was brilliant was working social media and youtube esque channels into society.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Evie Seo TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Hungry, though set in a not-so-distant future, offers a futuristic, semi-dystopian vision unlike anything I've seen before. From all the super advanced technology (like Gizmos, Holograms or HoverCams), to the many changes in humans themselves (eating habits, bodily functions, interpersonal relationships, etc...), it's a world so completely different from ours, it's at times overwhelming.

"Remember our motto," says Yaz in a mock serious voice, "One World, One Big Human Family."

The action of Hungry unfolds in a near future, and at times it's really hard to comprehend exactly how did things turn so bad so quickly. From what I gather, humanity managed to destroy the world almost completely. There are no animals left on Earth, no green plants, and no real freedom to do as you please either. There's no food, nor is there hunger for food or desire to enjoy food. Everything and everyone is constantly monitored - from your vitals and metabolism to your whereabouts. Even to have a child you need to enter something called Procreation Pool and get a match. There's no falling in love without Arousal added to your Synhamil, no meeting people at random. Everything is controlled by One World. Sounds scary? Oh, yes!

I thought Heather Swain did a really good job with the world building. While there are some plot holes in the book (How could people give up their freedom so easily? Did they not try to put up a fight? How did things change so drastically just over two generations? How are they functioning with the Sun being obscured and fauna and flora completely wiped out? What about oxygen? There are literally tons of questions that come to mind as you read), the world itself is interesting enough to get you hooked and flipping the pages.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings on June 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Hungry by H. A. Swain is a chilling portrayal of what our future could be if our society continues down its current trajectory as well as a coming-of-age story about a girl named Thalia when she realizes her world is much different than she thought. I have to admit that there are days when I wish I could just chug my Synthamil and not have to plan what meals to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but a world without chocolate is obviously unacceptable! Hungry is a refreshing combination of believable future technologies, friend and family relationships that actually make sense, and a dystopian society that gets back to the grittier roots of the genre. There is of course also the adorable but forbidden romance, but since Hungry is a standalone you don’t have to worry about love triangle developing ;-).
Note: I received Hungry from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Hungry by H. A. Swain
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 3rd, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher

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.
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