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Grant reaches his potential,
This review is from: Hunger (Gone) (Paperback)
When I read Gone, the preceding book to this one in Michael Grant's series, I was of the opinion that the book itself was decent enough, but clearly had a great deal of potential in terms of the characters and plot that Grant had put in place. As such I had high hopes that the second book would build on and reach that potential.
The second book effectively continues on from where the first left off. Sam continues as the somewhat unwilling teenage leader of the main band of children at Perdido Beach, supported by a varied cast of other kids of varying ages. Meanwhile Caine, Sam's brother, has recovered from his ordeal at the end of the previous book and now seeks to lead the other group of kids at Coates School, including the beautiful yet manipulative Diana, and the utterly psychotic Drake. Yet in a mine outside of Perdido Beach, the mysterious creature that we were introduced to in the last book continues to make its own plans.
Given the title of the book, it will come as no surprise that one of the main aspects of the plot this time around is that food is running out in and around Perdido Beach. Yet this plot is far from one dimensional, and the number of strands to it is truly impressive. Grant has created a large, varied and distinct cast of characters in this series, which are defined by distinct personalities as well as they are by the powers that some of them have. It is a worthy achievement that such a cast has been assembled in a manner that allows the reader to easily keep track of distinct characters with little effort.
But if that is an achievement worthy of note within the book, the true triumph is how the different strands of the plot intertwine, and how the involvement of the characters within the book is dealt with. The first couple of hundred pages of the book are a style of scene setting, but not in a manner that is dull. In fact quite the opposite; Grant effectively inserts a number of set pieces early on that keep matters moving whilst the ground work for the climax of the story are put into place. Yet that 'climax' isn't twenty or thirty pages long; it is in fact a meticulously paced piece of story telling that takes place over the entire second half of the book.
The number of different themes and aspects of the plot represent an ambitious approach from Grant. Not content with telling the story of a battle for resources between two rival factions, he also tells stories about kids trying to set up a system of business and reinvent capitalism, kids becoming prejudiced against those with powers, and even a kid with an eating disorder. These strands are pitched perfectly, and crucially the characters in this book act and react as one would expect children to do in their situation. The end result is that Grant has penned a story that is interesting, shocking, exciting, and perfectly paced.
Ultimately Hunger is an excellent book that, to my mind, propels this series up a fair few notches in terms of quality from what was a solid debut in Gone. The ending of Hunger is more defined than in Gone, and as such I will approach the third book in the series with an amount of intrigue as well as expectation. On the quality of this book, Grant is under some pressure to strike a level of consistency with his next offering.