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Book Review

Hunger by Michael Grant has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the "Gone" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In Gone (the first book of the series), a gigantic bubble called the FAYZ surrounded and trapped everyone younger than 15. No one knows what's happened to the adults. That was three months ago. Now food is in short supply. Kids from a private reform school called Coates — its leader Caine, violent henchman Drake and Caine's love, Diana — battle for power against Caine's brother, Sam, and the majority of the other more than 300 kids in the FAYZ. Sam and his girlfriend, Astrid, try to provide food and guidance for the children, some of whom are very young. But killer mutant worms are eating the few remaining crops. Some of the kids are mutating, too, developing powers such as the ability to run at high speeds, heal others, burrow into the ground, or in Sam's case, shoot fire from his hands. There's also the threat of the Darkness, an illusive being otherwise known as the gaiaphage, who lives in a mineshaft. No one has seen him, but he mentally calls to various children, telling them he needs them or that he's hungry.

Readers learn snippets about a number of different kids and the wounds they bring with them into the FAYZ. Mary, for example, continues her obsessive anorexic exercising and purging behaviors. Other kids recall abuse due to their parents' drug and alcohol addictions. Most of the Coates students are rich kids with behavioral issues. They continue to exhibit violent tendencies as they fight for control in the FAYZ.

When Coates leader, Caine, awakens from three months in a confused mental state, he calls the remaining Coates coeds to action. They make a plan to take control of the power plant and leave Sam's part of the city in darkness. In the midst of a standoff with Sam and his people at the plant, Caine realizes the gaiaphage is controlling his mind. It wants him to gather uranium to feed it, and Caine can't stop himself from obeying. Caine forces a computer genius named Jack to help him prepare and transport the dangerous material to the mine.

Meanwhile, the healer Lana goes to the mine to confront the gaiaphage. She battles mutant coyotes before getting inside. She discovers the gaiaphage is strange combination of pulsating lights, flesh and stone, human and alien, which has been nurtured and mutated by the radiation from a past power plant explosion. It inhabits her body, causing her to shoot her friend Edilio when he comes to help her.

Back in Sam's part of town, a boy named Zil launches a hate campaign against the "freaks," or all of the kids who have developed special powers. He and his friends rally other "normals" to help them torture and hang freaks. When Astrid tries to stop them, they capture her and her disabled brother, Little Pete.

Caine, Drake and Diana arrive at the mine with uranium to feed the gaiaphage. Drake, who has always resented Caine and coveted his power, injures Diana. Sam arrives to stop Caine from feeding the gaiaphage. Distraught over Diana's near death, Caine works with Sam to destroy Drake. They throw a fuel rod through Drake's body, and he falls into the mine. This causes the mine to explode with Lana still trapped inside. Sam asks a mutant boy named Duck to use his power to burrow deep into the earth. Sam, Caine and Duck enter the mine through the hole Duck has made. Duck throws himself into the gaiaphage to burrow through and destroy it. They're unable to find Duck's body afterward. Sam and Caine rescue Lana, who manages to save most of the other injured children above ground using her healing power.

A mutated boy named Orc prevents the hangings in town by breaking several of Zil's ribs. As the book ends, readers hear from a girl named Brittany who everyone thought was killed at the plant. She has apparently been buried alive, attached to a large slug-like animal.

Christian Beliefs

Brittany feels the presence of her dead brother, Tanner. He tells her not to worry, because he's in heaven with Jesus and the angels. He's happy and not hurt, afraid or lonely. Brittany picks up a gun and prays, in Jesus' name, that God will help her to be brave. She follows up by whispering to Tanner that it's OK if she dies, as long as her enemy dies first. She survives being shot and is convinced God has kept her alive because He's chosen her to do something important.

Astrid tells herself that surely God is still here watching over His children in the FAYZ. She genuflects and kneels, praying to St. Michael the Archangel to defend them against the snares of the Devil. She prays as the kids prepare to hang a boy, telling Jesus she knows He's watching and asking Him to make it stop. When a boy dies, a girl named Dahra reminds the kids that even the girl with healing powers isn't Jesus and can't raise the dead. A boy named Quinn refers to the Darkness as a tempter, a fraud and a liar like the Devil.

Other Belief Systems

Astrid ponders whether evolution could be the cause of the human and animal mutations in the FAYZ. She tells Sam she's praying. Sam replies that if there's a God, He's probably sitting in the dark at the end of His bed wondering how He managed to screw everything up. When she urges Sam to address some of the town's problems, he cynically tells her to pray to Jesus and maybe He'll handle it. When Astrid tries to talk Zil out of hanging people in a church, in God's house, Zil says there's no God in the FAYZ.

Authority Roles

One boy recalls beatings from his alcoholic father. Another had a mom who was addicted to heroin. Since no adults are present, Caine and Sam serve as leaders for their various camps. Caine is hostile and violent. Sam makes more of an effort to maintain order and be compassionate to others but finds it difficult when children are directionless and starving.


The Lord's name is used in vain many times. Sucks, a--, h---, screw, p---ed, butt and crap also appear frequently. Sam uses the phrase to h--- with your when he refers to God. Several kids flip others off. Mutant worms crawl into a boy's flesh and erupt from his throat as they kill him. A worm burrows a hole into Orc's face. Screaming and bloodshed follow as the boy tries to bite the worm's head off. Drake kicks a boy who has his leg broken and twisted at an impossible angle.

Drake later revels as he beats and terrorizes Sam almost to the point of death. Drake runs into a wire Brianna has hung as a trap for him. It slices off his mutated tentacle arm. Kids make up derogatory names like "moof" and "freak" to describe those with special powers. Zil and his gang hit one mutant boy with a crowbar, causing brain damage. Zil's gang then turns his powers of heat against the boy so he will cook his own hands. Many kids relish the idea of causing suffering and death to other factions of children. Kids speak matter-of-factly about the need to kill other kids for their own survival or for revenge.

Many kids carry guns, and numerous gun battles leave children broken and bleeding. Some kids die. If not for Lana's healing powers, most kids would be dead from their injuries. Kids play music with obscene lyrics, though the lyrics aren't written in the book.


Sam talks about the feel of Astrid's body against his. They kiss. He thinks about the different kind of hunger he has with regard to her. He wonders if she feels that for him, but he says she's religious so she probably doesn't think the same type of thoughts he does. He fantasizes about lying in bed and making out with her. Caine and Diana kiss. Diana strokes Jack's face, trying to seduce him into coming back to work with the Coates kids.

A character named Dekka is a lesbian. She's infatuated with a girl named Brianna and regrets not telling her how she feels. Dekka remembers being at Coates with Diana, who knew about Dekka's sexual preferences, and used the secret to her advantage. Orsay can see into other people's dreams while they're doing things such as falling, being chased or having sex.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol/drugs: Lana reveals that she'd had an alcohol problem before the FAYZ. She was sent away to her grandfather's ranch when her parents caught her with vodka. A number of kids in the FAYZ have discovered and begun using pot, alcohol and cigarettes. Mary takes Prozac to keep her depression at bay. A mutant boy named Orc is an alcoholic. He helps Sam and Astrid only when they agree to pay him in alcohol. He frequently orders someone to "beer" him when he wants more to drink. Astrid dislikes giving beer to the alcoholic Orc, but he is the only one powerful enough to harvest food in the worm-infested fields. Sam wonders what it's like to be drunk. He wonders if there's any point in trying to keep the kids from drinking, if they're all just going to starve to death anyway. Orsay says her mother was a heroin addict. A boy named Paolo recalls feeling trapped into getting high on a fishing trip with the children of his dad's business partners. A fire breaks out in a home where two 5-year-olds and two 9-year-olds live because one of the 9-year-olds was smoking pot.

Eating Disorders: Mary thinks she's fat, even though she's lost too much weight due to the lack of food in the FAYZ. She still watches her caloric intake and is obsessed with gaining weight. She pops Sudafed to keep from getting hungry. She also exercises for hours a day and purges. After Astrid finds her unconscious and smells the vomit, she starts watching Mary to make her eat.

Abuse: A boy named Bug remembers how his drunken father frequently beat or slapped him. The father limited his abuse so his ex-wife would not discover it. He didn't want her to win their private feud by getting custody of their son.

Bathroom humor, etc: Kids make several remarks about cabbage causing people to fart. Bullies tell a boy he looks like a turd in a toilet bowl. Kids are sometimes partially dressed in front of members of the opposite sex. Sam says he's gotten over the embarrassment of being seen in his underwear.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


Michael Grant






Record Label



HarperTeen and Katherine Tegen Books, imprints of HarperCollins Publishers


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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