- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Pocket (May 22, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743431022
- ISBN-13: 978-0743431026
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 6.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hunger Mass Market Paperback – May 22, 2001
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The Washington Post Vividly, skillfully written. -- Review
About the Author
Whitley Strieber is the author of many novels and works of non-fiction, including such legendary titles as the Wolfen and the Hunger. He lives quietly in Texas with his wife and their cats.
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Top customer reviews
When I started reading this novel, I was very impressed. The writing, the characters, the story, the historical flashbacks, the imagination and creativity, the unique spin on the vampire theme. It seemed to be all there and I was engrossed. I would be flooded with thoughts after reading a chapter, drawing interesting analogies between things in the novel and things in life. This, I thought, was actual literature. I was delighted. But about midway through chapter four the first of two things happened, which was a really tacky sexual scene. It was just silly and unnecessary. Total cheese. While my excitement about this novel was consequently deflated slightly, I was still hopeful and thought maybe this is just a single, anomalous blemish. I read on. And, indeed, the rest of chapter four continued to engage and impress me. Then the second thing happened: a fairly rapid decline in all those qualities that had so impressed me earlier in this novel. The writing ceased to impress me. I became less engrossed in the characters and the story, as they began to seem more flat and contrived. The flood of interesting thoughts and analogies stimulated by the first fours chapters dried up entirely. The main thought I had from chapter five onward was how could something so impressive for nearly 100 pages so suddenly become disappointingly mediocre for the remaining 150 pages. With that nagging thought in mind, I often found myself imagining that the author had spent a year crafting the first four chapters and three weeks just banging out the rest of the chapters to meet a publishing deadline, as it seemed to me that the author surely must have invested much less thought in the writing, the story, the characters, the flashbacks, etc., in these later chapters. At any rate, that was my experience of the novel.
The Hunger is really something different. Vampires (and the word is never used) are a separate species. A human transfused with vampire blood can become LIKE a vampire but eventually he or she will resist the vampire blood and the result will be both constant hunger and rapid aging. It’s part vampire story and part medical thriller. There’s no magic involved or even hinted at. As in the film version, Miriam is a vampire. Her lover John is a transformed human. John, is aging. Unlike the film version, she doesn’t go to Dr. Sarah Roberts to help him. She doesn’t realize the importance of Roberts’ work until it’s too late for him. But she does discover that Roberts’ work may hold the key to making human transformation permanent. Roberts’ may have accidentally created the mutation – the origin of her species – through her primate research on sleep and aging.
It’s well-plotted and works as page-turning fiction. It’s also very much character driven, without having any of the trappings one usually associates with “literary” fiction. It’s accessible. We get inside Miriam’s head and while it’s clear she doesn’t think like us, she’s not a demon.
Those are some of the accomplishments of the novel, yet it’s far from perfect. While Miriam is well-developed, the other major characters are a bit less so. Sarah’s significant other, Tom in particular, is clunky characterization although their relationship and love for each other is more sharply drawn than in the movie, and more significant.
The writing veers from sometimes very good to occasionally awkward and near cringe-worthy – especially with some of the erotica. Interestingly, there’s no explicit sex scene between Sarah and Miriam as in the film, though there is a very charged and inappropriate physical examination, which was a highlight. While I did find The Hunger to be a page turner, sometimes I skimmed pages to get to get to the good stuff – and by good stuff I don’t necessarily mean the hot stuff. I skipped the parts that readers don’t like.
Plot holes? Sure, a few, but they go by fast.
However, one major plus in the book’s favor, as compared to the film, is the ending, which I won’t spoil here, except to say it made more sense much than the movie ending although it left a major hole in terms of the possible exposure of Miriam’s species. Strieber, by the way wrote his own sequel many years later, which per the Amazon reviews appears to have been a disappointment.
As for the original, is it worth reading? If you like vampire novels and/or medical thrillers, then the answer is yes.