I got sucked into buying this book by the pull quote from Stephen King, but it did not even slightly live up to the hype.
The Hunger is a ‘historical fiction’ retelling of the doomed journey of The Donner Party across wild unsettled America which, as is widely known, ended in survival cannibalism. There is so much to tell in that story alone. Who were these people? Who crumbled first and why? How were those who were sacrificed to feed the others chosen? What happened when the dwindling survivors were eventually rescued? This is seriously rich and icky subject matter.
But Katsu decided not to focus on ANY of those fascinating questions and, instead, throw in a liberal dose of Native-American “mysticism” to change the story from “cannibalism due to survival necessity” to “vaguely vampiric disease spreads from Indians to pioneers” and UGH WHY?!
I was bitterly disappointed with this story. Throughout, the author made a half-hearted attempt to make only one of the interchangeable and indistinguishable male characters likable. The women were all either slutty witches, air headed psychics, or love blind fools. That is seriously selling short the kind of grit it must have taken to pack up their life and family onto the back of a covered wagon and head off into the American wilderness. Frankly, it’s insulting to those women.
Frustratingly, there are threads of story that are fascinating but randomly abandoned throughout. What happened to the guy who went ahead and joined up with the peaceful tribe? What about the other party who set off on foot from the larger group? I guess I’ll never know.
This had all the promise of being a gripping tale of the descent into desperate madness. Instead it was a poorly paced and rambling story which ends with a groan.
I was promised cannibals damnit! So frustrated.
2 lowing oxen out of 5.