Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Overall **** 4 out of 5 Stars. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Brother and sister Zander and Van have a secret. A BIG secret. They protect their secret and each other at all costs, until the new girl in town, Ivy, threatens to expose them both.
When I was reading Wicked Hunger, I had an eerily similar feeling as I did reading The Hunger Games. The two stories aren’t alike, plot or character-wise, but they both have a darkness that one doesn’t usually associate with YA. As I was reading Wicked Hunger, I kept thinking, I shouldn’t be enjoying this, I shouldn’t be enjoying this. Exactly the same reaction I had to The Hunger Games. With HG, I shouldn’t have enjoyed it because it was about children killing children. With WH, I shouldn’t have enjoyed it because it was about Zander and Van struggling with their hunger to cause others intense physical (and sometimes, emotional) pain.
Sometimes it’s the books we shouldn’t enjoy that we enjoy the most.
Zander and Van can’t explain WHY they have this hunger for pain, only that it has been passed down through their family. They think they are alone in the world and can’t explain their struggles with anyone, for their own safety as well as the safety of everyone around them. They both do their best to control the hunger, Zander by channeling it into football, and Van by gathering a group of close friends around her and teaching dance classes; but controlling the hunger is the hardest thing Zander has ever done when he meets Ivy. She fuels his hunger unlike any other person he’s ever met. Plus, he is immediately attracted to her, so that really doesn’t help! Van feels her hunger for Ivy, too, but luckily, her judgement isn’t clouded by teenage-boy-hormones.
When Van discovers what Ivy has planned to “out” their secret, she races to save Zander, Ivy, and herself.
Character Development: **** 3.5 out of 5 stars. Zander and Van are well-thought out and portrayed. I like that they have distinct personalities, but you also REALLY believe them as brother and sister. Ivy is complicated – the reader can never figure out what’s going on with her, but Gladden does a great job showing how untrustworthy she is. But my favorite character is probably Oscar. He is Zander and Van’s older brother who has literally been driven insane by his hunger. Although he only featured in 2 scenes, I could tell Gladden had his character down pat. His moments of crazy were beautifully interspersed with moments of lucidity and I’m really hoping for more of him as the series progresses.
I had to take stars off for some of the minor characters, though. Van’s group of friends is made out to be very important to her controlling her hunger, but the only one who gets any major “screen” time is Ketchup (fun name!). And even Ketchup’s character is very minimally drawn. We don’t get to see what it is about him that Van loves so much. I really wish there had been more scenes showing us their history together, because it is clearly important to Van. Then there’s Noah, a new kid in Van’s life, who seems to only be introduced as a distraction immediately forgotten. Van and Zander’s grandmother is their care-giver, but only appears in a few short scenes. We are told how strict she is, but it’s never shown. A definite missed opportunity that I’m hoping will be corrected in book 2.
Plot: **** 4 out of 5 stars. There actually is not a lot of action to this book. What drives the story is Zander and Van’s inner turmoil as they deal with the hunger. That being said, it is obvious that Gladden has put a lot of thought into her world. There are many of questions left unanswered at the end of the book, plenty to fill books 2 and 3!
Writing Style/ Voice of the Author: **** 4 out of 5 stars. Gladden does something unique, and it really works well for this story. She combines present tense and past tense. It gives the story an immediacy that intensifies the emotions of the characters. She also does a fantastic job of moving seamlessly between Van and Zander’s points of view. I never once got confused as to which character’s head I was in. I took one star off because I found it difficult to jump into the story. Gladden held back at the beginning a lot of the backstory, but then teased the reader with it continuously. I don’t mind teasers when they are subtle, but these were not subtle! I understand the purpose – build up the mystery and the tension and then reveal bombshells throughout the book – it’s just not my favorite way to do it. I know some readers who would absolutely disagree with me, though!
“Bruises can tell stories better than most people.”
“The pain burns up my arms and into my chest, but I can’t escape the animalistic thrill of destruction.”
“Instead, the colors look to be slowly blending together, a potter’s clay not yet molded into what it is meant to become.”
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DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology. Local folk lore is strongly rooted in her writing, particularly ideas of prophecy, destiny, and talents born from natural abilities. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually teaching yoga, coaching gymnastics, reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist. Her works include Escaping Fate, Twin Souls Saga, and The Destroyer Trilogy. DelSheree’s newest series, The SomeOne Wicked This Way Come series, follows Vanessa and Zander Roth, siblings with an uncontrollable hunger for pain and suffering that will either gain them limitless power or lead them to their deaths.