I liked the ideas in Grasshopper Jungle. Smith seems to be exploring the excitement and frustrations of being a teenager along with a whole bringing a...moreI liked the ideas in Grasshopper Jungle. Smith seems to be exploring the excitement and frustrations of being a teenager along with a whole bringing about the end of the world through the unleashing of unstoppable bugs, but the way they were executed and the way the story jumped all over the place left me feeling perfectly "meh." Teenage boys would love it, though. Did not really love or hate it, just "meh."(less)
Disclaimer to start: I won this through First Reads. Thanks MacMillen. On with the review.
Well, Swain at least gets points for coming up with somethin...moreDisclaimer to start: I won this through First Reads. Thanks MacMillen. On with the review.
Well, Swain at least gets points for coming up with something different for a dystopian YA novel. The truth is that I was really enjoying this for a while. Hungry is the story of Thalia Apple. (Yeah, if you're reading the title and that name, it's more than symbolic.) She's seventeen and a privy, aka, her parents are super important scientists in the inner loops of society and she's got a whole lot of advantages as a result. Surprisingly, or not, Thalia has a hard time accepting that the society she's living, basically a technological utopia where the corporation One World provides for everyone's needs and no one is hungry because of some crazy genetic manipulation. But she's feeling these pangs and having these weird dreams which lead her to meet Basil (more symbolism!). He's from the outer loops and is really not privileged. Basically, the world that Thalia believes exists is not what actually exists. Existential crisis? Yeah, no, she's pretty good about accepting that. It's only later when she starts really wondering where her worldview went wrong and, well ...
One of the strengths of the book is that Thalia, as narrator, eases readers into the crazy of things. If she thinks something is normal, then we kind of go along with it. If she thinks something might be a little funky, then yeah, we really start to question it. The first half of the book is pretty interesting in comparing the good and the bad of the whole hunger, not needing food thing. It's later when we're basically forced to trade one evil for another and believe that Thalia hasn't at least allowed certain thoughts to cross her mind that the trouble begins. Basically, the book is three sections, the first and last of which are two sides of the same coin and the middle one is the journey there.
But on the plus side, this book does not seem to be sprouting a whole series. I hope, anyway. There's a lot of the usual teen drama and angst. There are, surprisingly, main characters of color (Thalia's grandparents are African American and Vietnamese, respectively). Swain attempts to create something new and different that allows for dialogue about things like corporations being in charge of running the world and world hunger. The book is not really a great conversation starter, though. By the end everything feels rather familiar. I think it's time we retire the YA dystopian genre because even with "new" ideas, this book proves the same things seem to be repeated.
Good, not great. If you're looking for YA Dystopian settings, try it out. If you're tired of that, don't try it out.(less)
This is not a book to give someone who likes Star Wars and needs an introduction to Shakespeare nor is it a good book to give to someone who likes Sha...moreThis is not a book to give someone who likes Star Wars and needs an introduction to Shakespeare nor is it a good book to give to someone who likes Shakespeare and needs an introduction to Star Wars. First, if you really like your Star Wars, then it may be a novelty item, though more for the adult who can get through the reading than the child who will have no basis for anything as it is written. Second, the author seems to have a base knowledge of Shakespeare, but no true understanding of how the bard actually wrote and structured his plays. There are too many asides by characters, too much interjection of the Chorus to tell random bits of action (generally unnecessary I might add), and words like "troth" are thrown in willy-nilly without proper context/usage. Third and finally, simply adding -th and -st to words does not make them "Shakespearean," nor does constantly using "thee," "thou," and "aye," which get exceedingly tiring to read halfway through act one. (For the latter word's usage, are we in a Johnny Depp pirate movie? No - It's Star Wars which is thankfully Depp free). I will give the author credit where due, though. He does manage to get the iambic pentameter right which is something properly Shakespearean, but that's about the only part that's properly correct.
While I am not averse to the attempt, I just found that the subject in question does not translate overly well to the written Shakespearan page so to speak. Act V was exceedingly tedious due to the fact it was mainly a space battle but simply talked through by the characters since the form itself is somewhat limited. Some things work fine, and the artwork is spectacular throughout, but other sections just fall completely short in my opinion (to which you are allowed to disagree).
Quite possibly my least favorite of all the books I've read so far this year. Give to others, but be aware that not all of us who enjoy Star Wars and Shakespeare will like/appreciate the book as much as those who are in love with it.
Note: free copy received via Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.(less)