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Hungry by Alethea Eason
Review by Colleen Cahill
Eos Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780060825546
Date: 01 October 2007 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

There are plenty of alien invasion stories, even for children. John Christopher's Tripods trilogy is a good example. What Alethea Eason does different in her new work is show the event through the eyes of one of the invaders, in this case a 6th-grade girl!

Deborah, so called because it is "the closest name in English" to her real one, is living with her family in the small northern California town of Prattville and seems a normal preteen girl. In reality, her family is part of a pre-invasion force from beyond the solar system. This is not a force of conquest, but of gastronomy, as these are aliens that eat humans, relishing our essences or "the fear people experience" just before they are eaten.

At Halloween, Deborah's parents bring home a meal for the family, the only one they will get until the next year. None of them has ever eaten anything but humans, as other food could be poisonous to them. This Halloween is different, as Deborah is being pressured to eat her best friend, Willy, which will cause her parents' career to skyrocket if the Supreme High Council found that their daughter "was willing to eat a school chum." The fact that Deborah has a crush on Willy is not making this easy, nor is the news that at long last the invasion fleet is on its way.

The arrival of more aliens just makes life worse for Deborah. Not only is her domineering grandmother on board, which forces Deborah to give up her room at home, but the ship will bring Deborah's fiancé, an arrangement made by her parents years ago. Since this is news to her, Deborah is a bit shook up.

There are also rumors that there is a resistance to the invasion, a group of Deborah's people who are trying to prevent the Earth from being the next feeding ground, but her grandmother denies its existence. As Deborah learns more about her people's ways and the tastiness of eating sentient beings, she begins to wonder if maybe conquering the Earth is not the best idea ever.

This is a great tongue-in-cheek book with lots of humor. Deborah, who for all practical purposes is more Earthling than alien, has interesting worries about the upcoming invasion. Will it happen before Christmas so that she could skip writing a report for school? Since she is about to turn 12, which will make her an adult, Deborah has begin to experience "Disruptive Tentacle Syndrome" -- her tentacles will occasionally pop out of her head. She also finds some home-world customs gross, such as spitting on her palms and holding them up for another to touch. On the whole, Deborah does not really fit in with her people and definitely has issues with how she sees humans, who could be friends or food.

I enjoyed this book a lot and had many a chuckle at Eason's dry use of humor. She has taken the alien invasion theme in a different direction, more like the Coneheads in Saturday Night Live than War of the Worlds. I say bravo and urge you to try out Hungry today.

Our Readers Respond

From: Dianne
    I thoroughly enjoyed Hungry! Creativity, imagination and humor are woven together with well drawn characters and a surprising plot twist at the end to create a thoroughly satisfying experience. Many thanks to Author Eason for giving the gift of this book to the world of children's literature!

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