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The Hunger

Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)
Non-member price: $36.45
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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Hunger by Alma Katsu, read by Kirsten Potter. 

After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented, the other untested but rumoured to be shorter.

Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive, and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.

Based on the true story of the Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature pushed to its breaking point.

©2018 Alma Katsu (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Deeply, deeply disturbing, hard to put down, not recommended reading after dark." (Stephen King)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A few loose ends didn’t get tied up...

This was an engaging story with lots of interesting characters, a lot of mystery and tension.

It kept you guessing what was going on and I didn’t want to stop listening.

My only issue is that it seemed a little underdeveloped, and it seemed a lot of loose ends didn’t quite get explained to my satisfaction.

There were so many main characters, and I would’ve liked more detail about what happened to each of them in the end.
Maybe I missed something, but one character seemed to have just disappeared with no explanation, and after following him through the whole book, that was unsatisfying.

I feel like a few extra chapters and a lot more follow-up detail would’ve been nice. There was mention in the middle of a few minor characters wandering off and never coming back, and I recall thinking it was out of the blue and wanted to get more information.

I feel like this could’ve been an amazingly epic story, a massive brick of a book, with a huge word count, something you could really sink your teeth into... (I’m thinking a historical version of The Stand or Under the Dome.)
But for whatever reason, it didn’t follow all the leads where I hoped it would.

Nevertheless it was a compelling story and the narrator was very good, and I will listen to it again for sure.


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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 07-04-2018

History Merged With Supernatural Imaginings!

Alma Katsu has taken the real life historical tale of The Donner Party and moulded it with considerable respect to the factual detail into a horror story. It seems likely that the real-life version ended in cannibalism which you might say is horror enough but Katsu throws a supernatural angle into it too.

A wagon train of 100 people sets off on what back in 1846 seems like an incredible journey to even consider. Travelling across obstacles like the Sierra Nevada and the Great Salt Lake Desert Donner and his party encountered a myriad obstacles. Poor decisions and delays meant they missed a proposed rendezvous with a larger group and from there everything but the terrain went downhill.

I enjoyed the book and thought the near seamless integration of the supernatural element with historical fact was done extremely well. I couldn't quite see it as a five star read though because the book took a long time to get to the meat of the story and then an awful lot happens in a very short space of time. Even then though there are one or two long flashbacks which added little right when it all got exciting.The narration by Kirsten Potter is strong if a little mechanical in the quieter, more descriptive moments.

So it's a clever concept executed fairly well to create an enjoyable listen.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • F E Harrison
  • 25-04-2018

A bit underwhelming

I had high hopes for this book given the previous reviews but it didn't really hit the mark with me. The characters didn't grab me and the story just seemed a bit disjointed, the narrator was ok.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 16-04-2018

Sorry but let down by the narrator

Just could not get into it due to the drone of the narrator who clearly was not into it either. Felt like I was being read to by my old head teacher

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Emma Brodie
  • 25-04-2018

great

loved it .. the writing was so imaginative and the reading was excellent. definitely recommended

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Molly
  • 09-04-2018

Donner party?

rubbish... sentimental... unbelievable... and waste of time. I continued listening in the hope it would get better but it didn't. waste of time and money.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Don't normally review
  • 25-04-2018

underwhelming

pretty disapointed with everything about this story. The concept was great but the execution was pretty poor.

it's so disappointing that I really don't want to waste my time writting a revuew

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-01-2019

Underwhelming

An underwhelming book covering what should be an incredibly interesting saga. Ending is simply underwhelming . Never builds up to an ending it just sort of happens. The author indulges too much in metaphors and similies for description to the point where it feels like a creative writing exercise at school. All in all just disappointing.

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  • emma lane
  • 28-01-2019

Fiction no fact

I thought this was an account of the Donner party. instead I got a fictional story about wendigo's.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • jackie
  • 21-12-2018

Brilliant

Really enjoyed this book kinda got lost in it well written very atmospheric highly recommended but not for faint hearted

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  • Moteridgerider
  • 29-09-2018

A disturbing horror tale living up to all the hype

The Hunger is described as a reimagining of the story of the ill-fated Donner Party expedition with a horror twist. If you want to see how closely it follows the historical narrative you can check out Alma’s blog here. But, in a nutshell, the story follows a real journey of a wagon party in 1846 as some ninety odd settlers as they made their way from Independence, Missouri to California. They became stranded in the snowbound passes of Sierra Nevada and purportedly resorted to cannibalism in their struggle to survive.
Accolades for the book include The Hunger making NPR's list of 100 Best Horror Stories and being named one of the 21 best horror novels written by a woman. It’s now being optioned for film production by Ridley Scott.
So, does the story live up to the hype? Well, if you know how I listen to my audiobooks from previous reviews, then you’ll know I tend to partake during the early hours of the morning. So the idea of listening to a horror book at these times adds some context to how scared I am while immersing myself in the tale.
Let me say straight away that Kirsten Potter’s narration is the perfect mix of storyteller and dramatist for this kind of tale. She has quite a breathy style, but to my mind this doesn’t detract from the listening at all and her separation of character’s voices works very well for both male and female. She succeeds in creating atmosphere in the scenes, particularly in evoking the ambiguous sense of dread that pervades this novel.
Despite a sense of being on the wide open plains of America, the ever impending doom over the party and the notion that they are being tracked creates a ‘closed-box’ feel to the story. There are numerous flashbacks which are skillfully written and I never lost sense of what was happening or when. These serve to set the characters in the mind of the reader, and I think it’s fair to say that the majority have dark secrets to hide and are in some way running from their past. The author manages to make the reader/listener identify with every one of them – even the most despicable. From a teenage girl haunted by the voices of the dead, to a lone man fleeing a misplaced guilty conscience, to the errant wife of the wagon train’s leader.
The setting is wondrously described and I had no problem imagining the baking heat of the mid-west plains to the freezing heights of the Sierra Nevada mountains. All are expertly described, together with harrowing scenes of bestial attacks, mass graves of the Hunger’s victims and depictions of the hardship endured at every step. You get the sense that none of the characters are safe, but I’ll not spoil it for you by saying how things end up. Suffice it to say that the book will leave you affected afterwards. I’d be surprised if it didn’t have you reaching for Wikipedia to see how much of the story was true.
The only niggle I have is that the UK cover for the book does not hold up to the scope and vividness of the UK cover (I’ve shown the latter here.)
So, my verdict? If you’re a horror fan you won’t be disappointed by this offering. Alma Katsu has departed a little from her usual territory with The Hunger and her next book is apparently a thriller drawing on her experience of working as an intelligence operative. But, I hope she’ll bring her pen back top horror in the near future.