Hunger - Michael  Grant Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars

Three months have passed since the beginning of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) and food is becoming scarce. Kids are living off of rations of canned vegetables and looking to Sam Temple for guidance. The fields where food has grown are infested with man-eating worms, and it is up to Sam to figure out a solution to the hunger of hundreds of children. On top of the food shortage, more kids are developing powers and the mutations are becoming stronger, with some kids not knowing how to handle the forces they wield. A line is being drawn between the humans and the “freaks,” with “normal” kids attacking mutants with little provocation. Meanwhile, Caine has a plan to make life even more difficult for the kids of Perdido Beach. Will Sam be able to stop Caine, end starvation, and bring peace to the town?

I found this book to be a little more engaging than the first. We got to know more of the characters a little better, especially Lana, Sam and Caine. We see more of The Darkness and the effect it has on the people it encounters, such as Caine, Drake, and Lana. We also see the kids of Perdido Beach struggling to get along, both in relationships and just living day to day. I really liked the conflict the mutations have created between the “freaks” and the “normals” because, as much as it aggravated me, it also seemed like a realistic thing that would happen in such a scenario.

However, I do have a few complaints. Some pivotal characters aren’t explored as much as they should be, such as Little Pete, who plays a major role in the series. Astrid has become even more self-righteous and demanding, especially of Sam, who has the weight of the entire town on his shoulders. She comes down on everyone and never allows them explain their side of things – such as when she accuses Albert of hoarding batteries and paper products. She won’t let him get a word in edge-wise and demands that Sam put Albert out of business. All she seems to do is nag, whine, and get herself into trouble, and I couldn’t help but find her very useless.

Speaking of useless characters, I’d like to see what Diana is truly capable of, but all she does is cater to Caine. She’s manipulative and brilliant, yet she allows him to boss her around and threaten her. These two are supposedly in love, but it seems like Caine takes her for granted most of the time. Both she and Astrid are useless in times of conflict and have to be rescued by their men. In fact, even the mutant girls that are involved in the fight generally don’t get much attention, nor play a big role. The climactic battle always involves Sam, Caine, Drake, Edilio, Orc, Quinn, and the like, the girls are hardly involved, except to be messengers, or they get taken down very early on. Really? Can’t we have one girl who is a bit of a badass?

My last complaint about the characters involves Drake. The conflict with him is getting pretty old; can we just kill him off already? Honestly, the kids of Perdido Beach have enough to worry about!

My other major complaint is with the climax and the resolution to this entry. Everything happened so fast in the climax that I had to reread it a couple of times to catch it all. Not to mention the confusing behavior between Sam and Caine – what’s going on there? A truce? Or is Caine still going to be a main villain in the series? Also, I didn’t feel there was much resolution to the problems in the town itself. No plan for keeping a steady supply of food for all the kids in town and no real end made to the conflict between the humans and the mutants. The resolution felt a little rushed. I wanted these things explained. I guess I will see what happens in the next book.

Overall, this book was a little better than the first, but not by much. The female characters feel kind of useless in places and nothing feels truly resolved in the end. I will continue to read on because I want to find out what happens to these kids, because the scenario intrigues me, not the characters.