The Hunger
Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone--or something--is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck--the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history. While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions--searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand--evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves "What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased...and very hungry?"

The Hunger Details

TitleThe Hunger
Author
ReleaseMar 6th, 2018
PublisherG.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN-139780735212510
Rating
GenreHorror, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery

The Hunger Review

  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    In April 1846, 90 settlers left Springfield, Ill headed for California. The Donner Party was led by Jacob and George Donner. At first they followed the established route -- The California Trail -- reaching Wyoming without incident. It was at that point that they took the advice of a trail guide, Langsford Hastings, who offered a quicker route. This route proved to be dangerous and nearly impossible to navigate. The Donner Party wasted precious time trying to get through, and arrived at the Sierr In April 1846, 90 settlers left Springfield, Ill headed for California. The Donner Party was led by Jacob and George Donner. At first they followed the established route -- The California Trail -- reaching Wyoming without incident. It was at that point that they took the advice of a trail guide, Langsford Hastings, who offered a quicker route. This route proved to be dangerous and nearly impossible to navigate. The Donner Party wasted precious time trying to get through, and arrived at the Sierra Nevada mountains late in the season. While attempting to pass through the mountains, the group was snowed in, running out of food and supplies. Survivors ate the bodies of those who died in order to survive. Only about half of the doomed group lived through winter and arrived in California. This is what history tells us happened to the Donner Party. Alma Katsu paints a much more horrific, terrifying picture of that fated trip. What's worse than cannibalizing dead bodies? The thing that the Indians call Na'it. The Hunger. OMG! I loved this book! I am always in favor of creepy horror stories, but when it's a re-telling of a famous (and already creepy in itself) historical event I am even more on board for a good scare. This tale delivered creepiness, outright horror and suspense! As the story unfolds, the horror of the group's situation builds.....not only are they running out of supplies but they are being stalked. Animals disappear. People disappear. Then there's the whispers from the woods at night.....and the strange crazed men that appear, ranting about being hungry. So hungry. Awesome storytelling! A nice mix of history with fictional horror. It definitely kept my attention from beginning to end. This is the first book by Alma Katsu that I have read. She also wrote The Taker series. I'm going to read that series because I enjoyed this book so much. **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Putnam via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    This is a re-imagining of the tragedy of the Donner Party and there is terror and horror contained within these pages. The characters both real and fictious are fully developed with backstories that enhance the tale. You will want to keep the lights bright when reading this one.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    In The Hunger, Alma Katsu takes a real historical event – the dreadful fate of the Donner Party – and reimagines it as a horror story. (Of course, you could say it's already a horror story, but in this case it's the supernatural kind.) We follow a large cast of characters as they head out on a journey from Missouri to California in 1846. They're beset by bad luck from the start, and their inept 'leaders' repeatedly ignore warnings to avoid the treacherous route ahead. When a boy goes missing and In The Hunger, Alma Katsu takes a real historical event – the dreadful fate of the Donner Party – and reimagines it as a horror story. (Of course, you could say it's already a horror story, but in this case it's the supernatural kind.) We follow a large cast of characters as they head out on a journey from Missouri to California in 1846. They're beset by bad luck from the start, and their inept 'leaders' repeatedly ignore warnings to avoid the treacherous route ahead. When a boy goes missing and his body is later found bizarrely mutilated, it's just the beginning of a series of horrifying developments that will ultimately claim the lives of many of the party.There are lots of people in this story – the majority of them based on real historical figures. We spend the most time with Charles Stanton, a single man seeking to escape a fraught past; Mary Graves, who falls in love with him; James Reed, another man with secrets he'll do anything to keep; Tamsen Donner, unfaithful wife to George; and Tamsen's 13-year-old stepdaughter Elitha, who hears the voices of the dead. I was a little resistant, at first, to the idea of reading lots of backstory and everyday detail about all these people, but there's more than enough charm and colour to make them intriguing. I actually found the pacing to be the most troublesome thing about the story. In the final third, lots of things happen very quickly, and the potential tension and terror of these climactic events are lost in a confused, fast-moving narrative.Going by the cover and blurb, I assumed the bulk of the story would take place in the frozen mountains – I was hoping for something supremely evocative and chilling, akin to Michelle Paver's Dark Matter. In fact, most of The Hunger sees the group crossing barren desert, and Katsu's main focus is fleshing out the (human) characters. This is great if you're looking for a character-driven historical saga, or want to learn more about the lives of American pioneers in the mid-19th century; not so much if you're in it for the atmosphere and creepy scenes. The end result is a historical novel with an element of supernatural horror in which the latter is largely incidental.I received an advance review copy of The Hunger from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Set between June 1846 and April 1847, this novel is based upon the true story of, “the Donner Party,” which involved a wagon train heading to California, which ended in tragedy. Shockingly, the actual members of the wagon train relied on a book published at the time, “The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California,” by an author named Landsford W. Hastings, which advertised a shortcut the author had actually never tested out.The author weaves her story around this real life tragedy; incorporating Set between June 1846 and April 1847, this novel is based upon the true story of, “the Donner Party,” which involved a wagon train heading to California, which ended in tragedy. Shockingly, the actual members of the wagon train relied on a book published at the time, “The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California,” by an author named Landsford W. Hastings, which advertised a shortcut the author had actually never tested out.The author weaves her story around this real life tragedy; incorporating an element of the supernatural into events which were already harrowing. The wagon train contains a whole host of families, and some single men, who are all hoping for a better life. Among the various members are those with secrets in their past and, when things begin going wrong, they are viewed with suspicion by their fellow travellers. Despite the difficult subject matter, I found this to be an extremely interesting read. I can see why the author changed so much, but it has left me wishing to read a non-fiction account of this tragedy; possibly, “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party,” by Daniel James Brown. I love books which lead me on to other books and which inform me of periods of history, and events, about which I was previously unaware.
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  • Joanne Harris
    January 1, 1970
    Uneasy, nauseous, slow-burning tale that marries historical fiction with a hint of the supernatural. Great detailing; colourful characterization; some supremely ominous stuff, but always reigned in at the final moment to rack up the tension even more. Loved it. Will search out more of the author's work...
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  • Mariana
    January 1, 1970
    Hay sucesos de la vida real tan sórdidos y perturbadores que inspiran obras de ficción en las cuales intentamos entender qué demonios pasó o ponerle una cara a ese horror que las personas en cuestión tuvieron que enfrentar."The Hunger" está basado en un hecho real ocurrido en 1846. La Expedición Donner, conformada por aproximadamente 80 pioneros intentó llegar desde Wyoming hasta California. Siguiendo una ruta relativamente nueva, los pioneros dejaron sus casas, empacaron todas sus pertenencias Hay sucesos de la vida real tan sórdidos y perturbadores que inspiran obras de ficción en las cuales intentamos entender qué demonios pasó o ponerle una cara a ese horror que las personas en cuestión tuvieron que enfrentar."The Hunger" está basado en un hecho real ocurrido en 1846. La Expedición Donner, conformada por aproximadamente 80 pioneros intentó llegar desde Wyoming hasta California. Siguiendo una ruta relativamente nueva, los pioneros dejaron sus casas, empacaron todas sus pertenencias y subieron a sus familias a los vagones para empezar este recorrido que estaría lleno de peligro, pero que prometía una nueva vida y mejores oportunidades.Al menos 40 personas de la expedición murieron. Los pioneros se enfrentaron a terribles condiciones climáticas y la ruta que siguieron, los llevó a enfrentar dificultades para las cuales no estaban preparados, quedándose sin comida y teniendo que recurrir al canibalismo para sobrevivir.Los personajes de Alma Katsu se llaman y están inspirados en los verdaderos pioneros de esta expedición, sin embargo, ella añade una fuerza sobrenatural que los persigue a donde van. Una especie de wendigos (aunque ella no los llama así en el libro), espíritus caníbales que quieren devorar y destripar a los miembros de la expedición.El libro está narrado desde la perspectiva de diversos pioneros, a través de sus ojos vamos viendo la histeria colectiva, como van afectando las muertes al equilibrio y relaciones entre los miembros de la expedición y vamos descubriendo los oscuros secretos que cada uno de ellos guarda y que incluso podrían estar relacionados con las entidades que buscan devorarlos.Es un libro que disfruté bastante, sobre todo porque no sabía nada de este incidente antes de leer la novela; la construcción de los personajes es buena y logra que te intereses por ellos, que esperes un final distinto a pesar de saber que todo acabó en tragedia. La única crítica es que entre tantos puntos de vista de pronto se pierde un poco el hilo del terror, estamos desentrañando los misterios y pasados de todos y el peligro que los acecha en las sombras parece ser algo secundario en lugar del enfoque principal del libro.No da miedo, pero sí logra ponerte ansioso y hay un par de descripciones bastantes sangrientas. Lo disfruté.
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  • The Book Review Café
    January 1, 1970
    The Hunger by Alma Katsu is part historical fiction and part supernatural/horror. Based on a true story the author has masterfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction, even the fictional parts seemed very credible which made this book even more chilling to read. Based on the Donner party’s tragic crossing of America in the 1840s, it follows a group of settlers who head across the unrelenting plains in search of new beginnings but find themselves hunted by an unknown prey.The author has an The Hunger by Alma Katsu is part historical fiction and part supernatural/horror. Based on a true story the author has masterfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction, even the fictional parts seemed very credible which made this book even more chilling to read. Based on the Donner party’s tragic crossing of America in the 1840s, it follows a group of settlers who head across the unrelenting plains in search of new beginnings but find themselves hunted by an unknown prey.The author has an extraordinary ability to describe her settings, and the difficulties faced by the Donner party with such conviction that I felt like I was there along side them, I felt their fear, despair, and paranoia growing as the ill fated party struggle to survive in a hostile environment. The first half of the book is slow but please don’t let that put you off, as the author builds tension into the plot through her characters, and the threat of the unknown as children start to go missing. Each pioneer has joined the journey for a very different reason and each one has something to hide, which brings an authenticity to the story so the reader feel as if they really know and understand the characters. As the book progresses the characters secrets are revealed fuelling the tension, mistrust and violence amongst the pioneers.Alma Katsu’s writing is poetic at times as she describes a journey that causes hardship, hunger and madness. The writing is intense and steeped in atmosphere, as the reader the sense of foreboding grows. The Hunger is broken into months which I thought worked very well, it shows how relationships can fracture when faced with adversity and the lengths people will go to to survive.As each month grows darker, the author describes the decline in the Pioneers, hunger and fear begin to overwhelm them, with that comes discord within the party with themes of jealousy, lust, mistrust and the forefront.As the pioneers find themselves stranded, starving and fighting for survival the horror/supernatural aspect of the novel takes over and that’s when The Hunger comes into its own. At this point the atmosphere becomes much darker, the sense of dread more palatable. The author has created a terrifying and deeply unsettling story, reminiscent of The Revenant with a hint of the supernatural, it’s a book that turned out to be a hell of a read considering I picked it up with reservations. Highly recommended.All my reviews can be found at http://thebookreviewcafe.com
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  • Trev Twinem
    January 1, 1970
    The hardcover of this book, due for release in early march, shows a horse drawn wagon heading out into uncharted territory. This represented the pioneering spirit of American settlers heading west for California who felt confident in the knowledge that they were destined to occupy this territory irrespective of the affect their actions might have on the indigenous native American tribes who already populated these regions. The Hunger recalls one particular group of travellers historically referr The hardcover of this book, due for release in early march, shows a horse drawn wagon heading out into uncharted territory. This represented the pioneering spirit of American settlers heading west for California who felt confident in the knowledge that they were destined to occupy this territory irrespective of the affect their actions might have on the indigenous native American tribes who already populated these regions. The Hunger recalls one particular group of travellers historically referred to as the "Donner Party", led by Jacob and George Donner, who in the spring of 1846 departed Springfield Illinois on a perilous 2500 mile journey their intended destination the Mexican province of alta California. Poor planning, bad decision and snowstorms caused a number of the original pioneers to become trapped in the mountains during the severe winter of 1846. When food ran out it was said that they resorted to cannibalism; the unthinkable had happened in order to survive.Alma Katsu expertly uses the harsh unforgiving environment and that deep rooted human weakness, fear of darkness and the unknown, to instil in the travellers a paranoia that something evil is out there stalking them....."He saw teeth sharpened like iron nails, and too many of them, far too many-a long slick of throat, like a dark tunnel, and that horrible tongue slapping like a blind animal feeling for it prey."...Some excellent characterization really made the story come alive as long held dark secrets gradually emerged. James Reed owner of a large furniture business in Springfield, married to an older woman, yet tortured inwardly by personal feelings, dark thoughts and undisclosed encounters. Charles Stanton, the quiet anti-hero whom Mary Graves...."was giddily, stupidly, happily in love.".....Tamsen Donner, young bride to George Donner, her beauty and wayward ways causing discern and rumour amongst the gradually starving disillusioned pioneers. As bad weather, low rations, and poor decisions prevailed the.... "creatures that fed on human flesh".....selected and noisily consumed the weak and innocent.What I loved about this novel was the seamless blending of historical facts with a modern horror theme, a wolf like predator with an unquenchable longing for human flesh. As a British reader I must confess to my ignorance of the Donner Party and was pleased that the author included an "historical note" which greatly added to my enjoyment of the overall story. There were many fine observations in this ill fated journey non better than a quote at the conclusion of chapter 21....."Then the Lord must be mightily displeased with you, because he has led you into the valley of death. Make peace with your Lord before it is too late, because the hungry ones are coming for you.".... Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for this gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Recommended.
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  • Stephanie (That's What She Read)
    January 1, 1970
    This book was quite a ride. It's a re-imagining of the Donner Party with a bit of a supernatural twist. Katsu executes what works well with this horror sub-genre, suspense and character development! There was a lot of great, fleshed-out characters, and I found myself rooting for them despite my knowledge of the events that inspired this story. Of course, this did include my favorite part of a good survival story.... the slow breakdown of a group dynamic. This had a very cinematic feel to it; I w This book was quite a ride. It's a re-imagining of the Donner Party with a bit of a supernatural twist. Katsu executes what works well with this horror sub-genre, suspense and character development! There was a lot of great, fleshed-out characters, and I found myself rooting for them despite my knowledge of the events that inspired this story. Of course, this did include my favorite part of a good survival story.... the slow breakdown of a group dynamic. This had a very cinematic feel to it; I was not surprised to learn that the film rights for the book had already been purchased. I'm excited to see how it translates to the big screen.
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    This book was like a car accident--I just couldn't look away despite the horrors within it. As someone who has been curious about the Donner Party from a young age (and having more than one teacher tell me "we don't discuss that in school"), I was totally swept away. The book is not literary genius but the suspense is conveyed perfectly. The speculative fiction/supernatural take on what happened didn't take away from the actual historical event and certainly didn't lessen the horrible events. Th This book was like a car accident--I just couldn't look away despite the horrors within it. As someone who has been curious about the Donner Party from a young age (and having more than one teacher tell me "we don't discuss that in school"), I was totally swept away. The book is not literary genius but the suspense is conveyed perfectly. The speculative fiction/supernatural take on what happened didn't take away from the actual historical event and certainly didn't lessen the horrible events. The ending took my breath away in the worst way. I want to cover my eyes just thinking about it. But I think both horror and history lovers will like this one.
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  • Marvin
    January 1, 1970
    Four and a half stars.For those who never opened their American history textbook in school, The Donner Party was a group of families, a total of about 90 individuals, who were traveling by horse and wagons to California in the years of 1846 and 1847. After a series of misfortune and tragedies, they became trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter. Only 45 survived to make it to Sutter Fort. The stories that came from the survivors were those of vast misfortune, fatal decisions and acc Four and a half stars.For those who never opened their American history textbook in school, The Donner Party was a group of families, a total of about 90 individuals, who were traveling by horse and wagons to California in the years of 1846 and 1847. After a series of misfortune and tragedies, they became trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter. Only 45 survived to make it to Sutter Fort. The stories that came from the survivors were those of vast misfortune, fatal decisions and accusations of cannibalism.Alma Katsu's fictional account of the Donner Party misfortunes comes with another imaginative addition, that of the supernatural. The Hunger is a highly successful mixture of the historical novel and the horror tale. The author for the most part uses the name of the actual persons in the party, adds a few other historical personages like the trapper and scout Jim Bridger, and adds just a few fictional characters. Even though several characters figure in the main narration, the main protagonist is Charles Stanton, a single man on the trip who has secrets of his own. In a sweeping narration like this it often becomes difficult to keep track of all the characters. I found myself, after a few pages, perusing over the actual history of the Donner Party just to get a better idea of the events. I found that Katsu's account, with a major and obvious exception, was fairly loyal to it. That exception is "The Hunger".The Hunger is both an historical novel and a fantasy. I imagine this is a difficult thing to do. Katsu uses some back stories to give us an view of the various persons that figure in the telling and to be honest, I do not know how much of their back stories was real, especially for James Reed, Tamsen Donner, and Charles Stanton. These three characters figure strongly in the events to come. The author manages to do an impressive job telling the story in an historical sense but deftly adds a sense of terror as she introduces an element of horror into it. Another historical element that is important is that the Donner Party's misfortunes starts a long time before they reach the Sierra Nevada. The novel begins in Wyoming slightly before they reach Fort Bridger and the tragic events that befall the pioneers starts pretty much at that point both historically and in this fiction.This is where this review gets tricky. The Donner Story is horrific enough without adding a supernatural element. Much of the novel is based on the complex interactions of the members of the party. Stanton's tenuous relations with the Donners is much at play here as well as his troubled past. James Reed's falling out with the travelers plays a role yet I suspect the reason it does is partly fictional . At some point, the reader must put aside Katsu's deft handling of the historical aspects and realize this is a horror novel. That horror is added subtly while the author immerses the reader into the interactions and tribulations of the party members. Yet that horror finally takes hold of us. This is where Katsu shines. From the beginning I expected the horror to be of a much more traditional nature and I do believe the author intentionally leads us that way. Yet Katsu has her own tricks and we get something different than what we expect. It is a neat trick and one that fits keenly into the characters that we have become involved with.Throughout the novel, the author plays with our sense of wonder and curiosity. She gives us enough historical background to feel rooted while keeping us informed now and then that we are essentially reading a horror novel. She adds a creative something to an incident that was already pretty horrific. Most interesting to me is that, despite the creative addition of her own imagination, we do get a strong sense of the difficulties that the Donner Party went through and what their own frailties added to their bleak tale. It is sometimes hard to separate the real and the imagined in this novel and I believe that is the strength. We could always read an historical account if we want to know what exactly happened to the Donner Party. But it is a story that even in its historical reality confounds the imagination and makes one wonder how something like this could happen in spite of the many warnings the Donner Party received on the way.. Katsu teases it with a tale of horror that relies on a combination of folk legend and our own human nature and makes it just a little more terrifying and therefore entertaining to the reader that dares to stretch the imagination. There were a few times where the imbalance between historical and fantasy stretches a bit but overall The Hunger becomes a riveting tale of human nature and the fear of the unknown.
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  • Jeri
    January 1, 1970
    This is a reimagining of the true horror story of the Donner party and their horrible fate. I enjoyed reading it, I love horror stories and have always been fascinated by the tale of the Donner party and wondered what I would've done in the same situation.I was given an eARC by the publisher through NetGalley.
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  • Betty
    January 1, 1970
    Review coming soon.
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Hell of a book. HELL of a book. A heady mix of historical fiction and literary horror, and a tense, scary reimagining of an oft-sensationalized event. The characters are fully-realized and flawed, and you empathize with them so strongly as the timeline spirals downward toward its inevitable end.
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  • Beadyjan
    January 1, 1970
    Oooh this book ticked all my boxes and I'm excited to read that movie rights are already in place, it will make a wonderful film if its done right.But me, I prefer to read the book first and this one didn't disappoint one bit. I must confess I am not over familiar with the notorious true story of the hapless pioneering family known as the Donner party who set out along the California trail to Wyoming in a wagon trail and became beset by ill fortune and disaster although when I picked up the Hung Oooh this book ticked all my boxes and I'm excited to read that movie rights are already in place, it will make a wonderful film if its done right.But me, I prefer to read the book first and this one didn't disappoint one bit. I must confess I am not over familiar with the notorious true story of the hapless pioneering family known as the Donner party who set out along the California trail to Wyoming in a wagon trail and became beset by ill fortune and disaster although when I picked up the Hunger I realized that in the past I have read a very different account of this famous event which is very well documented.The Hunger is very much a work of fiction, though closely woven around a hard core of fact and many characters in the book and things which happened are very real. It is historical fiction with a creepy and insidious taint of horror.A large mismatched group of families set off together with their belongings and wagons, to travel across The Wild West of America in the days when it truly was the WILD West. This alone is a brave and possibly foolhardy thing to do. Following misjudgments and mishaps this party become delayed, and winter is approaching, fast. They reach a divergence of two trails, the main one which is well trodden, used by many before them, a proper trail which is marked and has the odd supply post scattered along it. The second one of which little is knows except the lack of information and way-marks yet is talked about, the rumours say it is hard, it is wilder than wild and it crosses paths with native tribes who are rumoured to be unfriendly, but it is also rumoured to be much shorter, more direct and the decision to take this path, made by self appointed leader George Donner, is just one of many mistakes he will come to regret.As the party fractures, some stay to the original planned route despite approaching winter meaning they just may not reach their destination before the harsh winter weather arrives. The rest go forth into the unknown with a leader who is neither fully respected nor as wise as one would hope, a recipe for disaster surely before they even set off.What happens in this account is horrific and terrifying and although it is a work which is part horror part fantasy, it is actually incredibly believable and not too far from the truth to make you think Oooer. Its deeply immersive and awe inspiring and so damn chilly and creepy it scared my pants off!I love historical fiction, based loosely on real events and filled with ordinary everyday folk, who might have had my ancestors amongst them, though I do fervently hope nobody in my bloodline was subjected to the tragedies in these pages.What is put across extremely well and made me rapt in this story is the massive risk and bravery these pioneering families took upon themselves in a time when adrenaline sports and adventure travel was unheard of. Husbands who have spent all their lives working the land on a farmstead together with wives whose skills lie in jam making and child rearing and whose most adventurous occasion so far has been a family birthday party or a new preacher arriving at the local church, pack up their hard earned and impractical belongings into a wagon, sit their kids on top, herd their livestock, tighten their shawls and set off to basically walk 2,500 miles across the most inhospitable and harsh terrain imaginable!It makes your mind boggle! And these are suspicious and often ill educated folk who find it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, myth and legend from historical fact. Being away from familiar surroundings and unsure of where they will end up is enough to totally stress the most laid back person, so it's not surprising when mistrust and violence begins to erupt, but it doesn't quite stop there.This is an imaginative and innovative take on historical fiction with a difference. I loved it and hope you do too.Read this and other reviews on my book blog:https://beadyjansbooks.blogspot.co.uk
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    I admit to not knowing much about the original Donner expedition before reading this but there was so much more to discover because of it. Not sure what’s more horrific, the real or the imagined , actually a bit of both as the novel takes on a supernatural tone which totally freaked me out.I expected snowy mountains to be honest but it’s more of a lost in the dry desert kind of story. Still plenty places to almost die, get in bother and then resort to...well there’s something to discover for you I admit to not knowing much about the original Donner expedition before reading this but there was so much more to discover because of it. Not sure what’s more horrific, the real or the imagined , actually a bit of both as the novel takes on a supernatural tone which totally freaked me out.I expected snowy mountains to be honest but it’s more of a lost in the dry desert kind of story. Still plenty places to almost die, get in bother and then resort to...well there’s something to discover for yourselfThere’s a lot of time in the novel to examine the characters and get to know them and sometimes this did take away from the focus on the creepy scenes I wanted. The chills, the horror etc...ironically got lost a few times. Having said that it was a fascinating account of a group of American pioneers. Which way should they go? What’s that up ahead? What’s just happened? What the...? That’s the kind of book this is. Horrific and chilling, disturbing but strangely compelling. A unique take on an already unique historical incident.I think it was horrific enough without some of the supernatural bits added here. I did enjoy exploring the settings, the atmosphere and the sense of foreboding though. Scary to think some of this really did happen. Off to buy a history book on the incident now. I need to know more.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Dark, complex and terrifying, The Hunger fuses historical events with a creeping, supernatural horror, making this a standout book of 2018. A quick note for those who might be sensitive to the use of the word “Indian” when talking about Native Americans: Please note that during the timeframe of these events, Native Americans w I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Dark, complex and terrifying, The Hunger fuses historical events with a creeping, supernatural horror, making this a standout book of 2018. A quick note for those who might be sensitive to the use of the word “Indian” when talking about Native Americans: Please note that during the timeframe of these events, Native Americans were called “Indians.” The author’s use of the word “Indian” is historically correct, and I have also chosen to use it in this review. Before I get started, I have to mention that this is one of those reviews when I could not stick to my normal 1000 words (I just talked about this in another post). The Hunger is packed full of characters, emotion and history. This review barely does it justice.I’ve been following Alma Katsu’s writing career since I stumbled upon her deliciously dark debut  The Taker  back in 2012, and I’m thrilled to report that her talent, which was pretty impressive back then, has grown by leaps and bounds. The Hunger was stunning in every way possible. Not only is the writing beautiful and evocative, but the way she’s constructed her complex story made this an immersive experience that I won’t ever forget. The subject matter is both fascinating and gruesome. If you live in the United States, you no doubt know the story of the Donner Party, a group of pioneers who set out in the spring of 1846, headed for the promised land of California. Beset with bad luck and even worse weather, the members of the wagon train ended up stranded by the harsh winter snows of the Sierra Nevadas and ultimately resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. Katsu takes this well-known tale and gives it a supernatural spin, a sort of “what if” scenario that results in a blood-chillingly good story.George Donner and his family join up with a large wagon train on its way to California, pioneers who are looking for a better life. Nearly ninety people make up the group, including loner Charles Stanton who is traveling by himself, and Donner takes on the role of leader as they try to decide which way to go. The trip could take up to five or six months, but they’ve left late in the year, and they’re worried that they won’t get through the mountain passes before winter hits. After hearing rumors of a shortcut called Hastings Cutoff, the men decide to try their luck. Unfortunately, Hastings Cutoff proves to be nearly impassable, and a power struggle among the families ensues. Provisions are dwindling, tempers are flaring, and worst of all, something sinister seems to following the group, attacking their livestock in the middle of the night and even picking off the children. Campfire tales of spirits and demons possessing men suddenly don’t seem so far-fetched. And as the members of the wagon train fight for survival, they face the real possibility of starving to death before they reach California.Katsu’s story focuses on the characters and their backstories and complex relationships with each other, more so than the supernatural aspects—at first, anyway. Most of the characters are based on the real-life people who were part of the Donner Party (a quick check on Wikipedia confirmed it), which gives the story a chilling dose of reality. This is historical fiction at its best. Anyone who loves stories of the old west and the harsh conditions faced by settlers and pioneers will love The Hunger. I was mesmerized by the living conditions these people faced: huge families living together in small spaces with no privacy, the threat of Indian attacks, the dwindling supplies and the eventual hunger and thirst when they ran out, being forced to slaughter their cattle and oxen for food, and the realities of becoming sick in the wilderness with very little in the way of medical supplies. In one poignant scene, as the members of the wagon train realize they must leave everything they can behind in order to lighten the load, a father tells his little girl that she has to abandon her beloved doll. With such a large cast of characters, it could have become overwhelming and confusing, but Katsu manages to bring many of them to life. A few characters in particular grew on me, even though I didn’t like them in the beginning. Tamsen is Charles Donner’s wife, a woman with a dubious past who isn’t well liked among the pioneers. But as the story progresses, she shows true backbone and clearly cares about the people she’s surrounded by. Even the horrible Lewis Keseberg turned out to have a tragic past, which probably accounted for some of his behavior. These are rough characters living hard lives, and Katsu doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to making them believable.The first sign of trouble comes early in the story when a young boy goes missing. They find him soon enough, but unfortunately he’s dead, his body savagely torn to pieces with little more than bones left. Katsu hints at the terror but never really explains what’s happening until nearly the end of the story.  At first the characters think they’re being followed by a pack of wolves, but later there are rumors of a mythic demon who devours humans and then inhabits their bodies. I loved the inclusion of Indian folklore, as one character tells stories of men who turn into beasts and devour other men. And if you’re thinking this is going to be graphically violent tale of people sitting around a campfire eating each other, you’ll be disappointed. Katsu’s horror is far more complex than that, and she brilliantly merges the supernatural aspects with the true story of cannibalism. The story includes flashback sequences that take place months and sometimes years before the journey, which give us important backstory information about the characters and their motivations, why they act they way they do now. Katsu also uses an epistolary style for one character, as Edwin Bryant, a journalist who is doing research on an Indian tribe, writes letters home to his wife, and later to Charles Stanton, explaining the challenges and fears he’s facing. I loved getting this first person perspective from one of the more level-headed characters, and I especially loved the way the tone of his letters goes from hopeful to resigned. We also find out Stanton's terribly secret through flashbacks, something that is hinted at but never explained until the end. Flashbacks don't always work well, but this time they do.And can we just talk about Chapter Forty for a moment? It might be just me, but this chapter all by itself deserves an award. It’s one of the most heartbreaking and perfectly written pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered. I won’t tell you what happens in that chapter, but let’s just say one of my favorite characters encounters the monstrous creatures and things do not end well. It takes a lot to move me to tears, and trust me when I say I had tears streaming down my face by the end. Each word is perfectly placed, each detail painstakingly laid out. Katsu has a talent for focusing on details that wouldn’t normally seem important, but here they become crushingly so. Like the rest of the book, the horror in this chapter is palpable, but because we’ve come so far, and we’ve gotten to know the characters so well, the horror is much, much worse. The Hunger has already been optioned for film, and may even be in production by now, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. This is Alma Katsu’s best book yet, and if you’ve never read her books before, then you are in for a treat. Start with The Hunger , you won’t be disappointed.Big thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    4 and 1 / 2 starsThis book is filled with colorful personalities: Stanton, the bachelor who is both sensible and tortured, Reed the short-tempered and impatient who is traveling with his wife, Keseberg who is a violent man, a bully and is very opinionated and Donner who with his whole family traveling in style thinks he’s above the rest and craves attention and acclaim from the others. These are just a few of the people on the some ninety person wagon train who are to take the Hastings cutoff ov 4 and 1 / 2 starsThis book is filled with colorful personalities: Stanton, the bachelor who is both sensible and tortured, Reed the short-tempered and impatient who is traveling with his wife, Keseberg who is a violent man, a bully and is very opinionated and Donner who with his whole family traveling in style thinks he’s above the rest and craves attention and acclaim from the others. These are just a few of the people on the some ninety person wagon train who are to take the Hastings cutoff over the pass. The Hastings route is new, relatively untried and very dangerous, especially when they have left late in the season and have encountered sparse grazing and little water already along the way.The trekkers are feeling uneasy. Some feel that Tamsen Donner is a witch for she picks herbs along the way and makes potions. She flirts with the other men and teases them. She visits other men’s wagons at night. Her husband knows about her nocturnal visits. Stanton and Reed travel ahead to locate Hastings after he said he would meet them, but went on anyway. They find a note he left telling them to turn back. The path is barely wide enough for a wagon and is strewn with trees. It seems almost impassible, especially with time running out before winter. They locate Hastings and his wagon train people are badly spooked and Hastings has secreted himself away in his wagon. He speaks wildly of something following them, but doesn’t know what it is. He doesn’t seem crazy, just badly frightened. They return to their own wagon train and Reed insists stubbornly to follow the Hastings trail anyway. So they set out with Reed taking the captaincy after Donner abdicates his own captaincy. But things are not going well for the group. Rivalries, jealousies and just plain dislike begin to threaten the travelers. In-fighting is rife. Reed is too afraid for his own personal safety to intercede. People start behaving very strangely. They attack one another. They seem to be healthy – and then they are not. The men are contentious and the women are afraid. People start dying. Have they been driven crazy because of the dying cattle or the need to leave their possessions behind? Is something out there? Edwin Bryant, a newspaper man with some medical training, has set off on his own journey. Along with his other adventures, he comes across a small group of Indians who tell him the story of the na’it. This is a spirit who infects men and makes them want to eat human flesh. Thus the supernatural enters our story. This book is very well written and plotted. It is an enthralling journey into madness. The suspense begins immediately and is kept at a high level as the story continues. It is told in a believable manner that has the reader fascinated and entranced. The characters are colorful and unique. Sufficient background information is given on the main characters to flesh them out, but not so much that it intrudes on the story. I’ve read a great deal about what might have happened to the people on that wagon train.This is a great alternative theory on what really happened to the Donner party. I want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam/G.P. Putnam’s Sons for forwarding to me a copy of this most remarkable book to read and enjoy.
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  • Tabatha Stirling
    January 1, 1970
    Well, Ms. Katsu, you have a fan for life. The Hunger is one of the most compelling books I've ever had the pleasure to read. An extraordinary, claustrophobic slice of pioneering life and, in particular, the infamous Donner party. As the scales begin to fall from the eyes of the wagon train, headed for a new life in California, their relationships and sanity start to unravel. Extreme weather, the daily search for a scapegoat, brutally murdered children and the burgeoning realisation that they are Well, Ms. Katsu, you have a fan for life. The Hunger is one of the most compelling books I've ever had the pleasure to read. An extraordinary, claustrophobic slice of pioneering life and, in particular, the infamous Donner party. As the scales begin to fall from the eyes of the wagon train, headed for a new life in California, their relationships and sanity start to unravel. Extreme weather, the daily search for a scapegoat, brutally murdered children and the burgeoning realisation that they are being hunted by something otherworldly and fiendish starts to hack away at the collective morality.Gossip, jealousy, the complex dynamics of our social structure and how men and women cope in a faltering and unstable environment are some of the broader themes. But it is the touch of supernatural woven between our deepest fears and Native American mythology that had me shivering under the covers and turning pages at Mach 2.I can't recommend this enough - so much awesome.
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  • Laura Chase
    January 1, 1970
    I got this as an advanced readers copy. I had known of the Donner Party and the just the basics of that ill fated trip, so I was intrigued to learn more and having the supernatural twist just really intrigued me. I had a hard time getting into the story and almost gave up I'm glad I stuck with it as about a third of the way throught it, I was finding that I was having a hard time putting it down.Some of the characters and the sub stories were really good and others seemed forced.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you for Edeweiss and the publisher for a copy of this book.What a cool concept for a story! I was excited to read this book because I am a horror fan, and I am fascinated by the story of the Donner Party. Unfortunately, I just could not get into this book. Part of my problem was that I have just finished two books about the real Donner Party, and I just couldn't get lost in the supernatural elements of this book. If the book had been about a fictional party of people, I think I would have Thank you for Edeweiss and the publisher for a copy of this book.What a cool concept for a story! I was excited to read this book because I am a horror fan, and I am fascinated by the story of the Donner Party. Unfortunately, I just could not get into this book. Part of my problem was that I have just finished two books about the real Donner Party, and I just couldn't get lost in the supernatural elements of this book. If the book had been about a fictional party of people, I think I would have really enjoyed it. It just felt weird to me. I started skimming, and decided not to finish the book. It makes me sad. Like I said, it's a cool concept, but just not the story for me.
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  • Allyn Nichols
    January 1, 1970
    A well written historic thriller / horror based upon true events. Dark, Gripping and delves into the darkest parts of the human psyche. A tale of true desperation and the depths to which anyone can sink if dire circumstances are pushed all the way to the edge.
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  • Lelia Nebeker
    January 1, 1970
    For some, the journey west meant a new beginning; for others it was a last resort, an opportunity sought from desperation. None of the pioneers of the Donner Party, however, could have known the horrors that awaited them on the long trail to California. More than just the fierce elements and the possible dangers of crossing paths with Native American tribes, there's something sinister permeating the desolate landscape around the Donner Party, preying on their suspicion and desperation. Weaving t For some, the journey west meant a new beginning; for others it was a last resort, an opportunity sought from desperation. None of the pioneers of the Donner Party, however, could have known the horrors that awaited them on the long trail to California. More than just the fierce elements and the possible dangers of crossing paths with Native American tribes, there's something sinister permeating the desolate landscape around the Donner Party, preying on their suspicion and desperation. Weaving together various points of view, slowly uncovering the secrets harbored by the members of the group, Alma Katsu masterfully tightens the strings of the story, knowing just when to pluck them to elicit the maximum level of suspense. Even with a supernatural tinge, there's still enough truth in the story of THE HUNGER to haunt the reader's thoughts long after turning the final page.
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  • OutlawPoet
    January 1, 1970
    Every so often you read that book where, less than half way through, you’re already recommending it to everyone you know.This is that book.The Hunger, by Alma Katsu, is a fictional rendering of the Donner Party – and everything that happened to them. While the author definitely takes some liberty with our characters and the reasons behind what they did, this rendering is lush and full of so many wonderful historical details.Katsu puts the reader out there following those wagons, feeling the extr Every so often you read that book where, less than half way through, you’re already recommending it to everyone you know.This is that book.The Hunger, by Alma Katsu, is a fictional rendering of the Donner Party – and everything that happened to them. While the author definitely takes some liberty with our characters and the reasons behind what they did, this rendering is lush and full of so many wonderful historical details.Katsu puts the reader out there following those wagons, feeling the extreme thirst parching the throat and the horrendous heat as our travelers trudged through a barren wasteland. She lets into the hopes, the fears, and the dark secrets of our travelers – some of which are heartbreaking.Historical purists may take issue with the reason behind everything. I would just remind them that this is a historical fiction. Some of that fiction takes turns that aren’t quite grounded in our everyday reality, but Katsu draws them so well that you find yourself simply enmeshed in the story – fact or fiction stops mattering.Epic Storytelling.*ARC Provided via Net Galley
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  • Terri
    January 1, 1970
    Full disclosure. I am a total Alma Katsu fan. I love The Taker series and recommend it to everyone who will listen. When I was asked to review an Advance Reader Copy of The Hunger, I was warned that it wasn’t like Alma’s previous writing. That intrigued me. I had concerns. They were unfounded. Alma Katsu delivers a fascinating marriage of historical fiction and the supernatural. It is unique, consistently interesting, and absolutely unsettling. This take on The Donner party and their trek across Full disclosure. I am a total Alma Katsu fan. I love The Taker series and recommend it to everyone who will listen. When I was asked to review an Advance Reader Copy of The Hunger, I was warned that it wasn’t like Alma’s previous writing. That intrigued me. I had concerns. They were unfounded. Alma Katsu delivers a fascinating marriage of historical fiction and the supernatural. It is unique, consistently interesting, and absolutely unsettling. This take on The Donner party and their trek across the West depicts how disturbing human nature can be, as well as the frightening unknown. Somehow, Katsu takes the already horrific events in history and makes them, even more bone-chilling. Honestly, the Pioneers of the West in the mid-1800’s has never personally interested me, but The Hunger’s characters and storyline are riveting. This is a novel not to be missed.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Alma Katsu has written a fictionalized version of the tragedy of the Donner Party. The book deals a great deal with Tamsen Donner, the wife of George Donner the leader of the group. Some of the group think that Tamsen is a witch and few like her. As the story unfolds, you meet and come to understand the main characters. Although you know what the ending will be, it is a fascinating book and I enjoyed it very much.
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  • Ashley Rae
    January 1, 1970
    The Hunger by Alma Katsu follows the lives of several families in an Oregon Trail group. When they start getting picked off one by one, they start questioning the "wolves" in the woods. Who's good, who's evil, and who's simply hungry? I think I can best describe this book by saying it's an interesting mashup of Oregon Trail and zombie apocalypse. While the book didn't blow me away, it was certainly an intriguing read and had an addictive quality that made it hard to put down.The quality of writi The Hunger by Alma Katsu follows the lives of several families in an Oregon Trail group. When they start getting picked off one by one, they start questioning the "wolves" in the woods. Who's good, who's evil, and who's simply hungry? I think I can best describe this book by saying it's an interesting mashup of Oregon Trail and zombie apocalypse. While the book didn't blow me away, it was certainly an intriguing read and had an addictive quality that made it hard to put down.The quality of writing in the book is decent. It's clear the author did her research and understood the perils of early settler life.Overall, I thought the pacing of the book was slow. I didn't find myself invested in the book until about 25% of the way through. Even once I was invested in finding out what happened next, the action dragged. I really liked the plot and concept of this book. As if crossing the Oregon Trail isn't a stressful journey already, throw in the "what's going to eat me in the woods?" idea, and you've got the recipe for a compelling story. Once people began dying off, the mystery started to escalate, and I found myself eager to turn each page. The ending was so-so. The book covered so many different characters and so many different points of view, and I feel like some of the characters got left hanging at the end. I wanted to know what happened to all of the characters, not just some of them. Regardless, the ending was unexpected and fell into the range of gruesome and creepy. It wasn't a bad ending--I just felt like additional details were needed to really wrap the story up. The characters--wow, so many characters! As I said before, this book follows the point of view of several different characters. Because of this, it was really hard to care about any one person. My favorite characters were probably Charles Stanton, Mary Graves, and James Reed. I liked Charles because of his touching backstory, I liked Mary because she just wanted to find love, and I liked James because he struggled with being gay in a time where being gay wasn't acceptable.Honestly, if you're looking for something a little different, this book is worth the read. I found it to be an enjoyable quick-read. Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.This review will be posted to my blog on March 3, 2018: https://thriftybibliophile.com/2018/0...
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  • Leigh
    January 1, 1970
    As I flicked through the preamble to this novel, I saw five words that made me instantly regret requesting it for review – “based on a true story”. I’d read the little description, and somehow decided that it was going to be a horror; instead, I’d ended up with a fictionalised history of a group of American pioneers, which was about as far from what I’d normally choose as it could possibly be. However, I had requested it, so I needed to read and review it.I’d never heard of the Donner Party befo As I flicked through the preamble to this novel, I saw five words that made me instantly regret requesting it for review – “based on a true story”. I’d read the little description, and somehow decided that it was going to be a horror; instead, I’d ended up with a fictionalised history of a group of American pioneers, which was about as far from what I’d normally choose as it could possibly be. However, I had requested it, so I needed to read and review it.I’d never heard of the Donner Party before; I don’t remember covering any American history in school and even if we did, that was decades ago. Maybe that helped, in that I had no preconceived ideas of the characters described, but it also meant that there were suddenly masses of people that I needed to remember. This was a struggle, so I’d very much recommend jotting down the family groups and their members as you go. Seven people stood out fairly quickly, but the rest remained pretty ephemeral throughout, which didn’t help with the narrative.This is all sounding terribly negative, but I quite enjoyed the book, which turned out to have a touch of the supernatural about it after all. The characters that did stick with me stuck well, and the story moved along quickly. There could have been more detail of the journey, but maybe that was only lacking because I didn’t know the history behind the story. It’s made me interested enough to research the actual historical accounts of what was an epic journey, even without the extra difficulties the group ended up facing.I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    The idea had fantastic potential, but I never got caught up in this. I never felt thrilled, creeped out, scared, or much of anything. I never found myself feeling attached to or opposed to any of the characters. None of the characters quite felt real. All of them were a bit ... expected. You have the man with a bad reputation who is misunderstood. There is, of course, the pure-hearted girl who sees through it all and loves him anyway. The story also features the promiscuous woman with a heart of The idea had fantastic potential, but I never got caught up in this. I never felt thrilled, creeped out, scared, or much of anything. I never found myself feeling attached to or opposed to any of the characters. None of the characters quite felt real. All of them were a bit ... expected. You have the man with a bad reputation who is misunderstood. There is, of course, the pure-hearted girl who sees through it all and loves him anyway. The story also features the promiscuous woman with a heart of gold (view spoiler)[who stands by her man in the end (hide spoiler)] and the man in the closet who endangers everything. The bad guy rapes when it adds nothing to the story. It was all just so typical.Honestly, I only finished it because it was a giveaway book and I felt obligated.I received a complimentary copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.
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  • Kyleigh
    January 1, 1970
    **DISCLAIMER - I was sent this book in return for an honest review. This did not affect my review.**2.8/5 ⭐STORY - 3/5 (I liked how it was a reimagining of the Donner tragedy but I didn't know that until I was like halfway through the book. Without that detail the story was bland, confusing, and the reveal was underwhelming.)CHARACTERS - 2.5/5 (I was so confused the entire time. I couldn't figure out who most of the characters were and definitely couldn't remember their backstories. Even the one **DISCLAIMER - I was sent this book in return for an honest review. This did not affect my review.**2.8/5 ⭐️STORY - 3/5 (I liked how it was a reimagining of the Donner tragedy but I didn't know that until I was like halfway through the book. Without that detail the story was bland, confusing, and the reveal was underwhelming.)CHARACTERS - 2.5/5 (I was so confused the entire time. I couldn't figure out who most of the characters were and definitely couldn't remember their backstories. Even the ones I did remember I didn't really care about.)WRITING - 2.5/5 (Again it was so confusing. I couldn't keep up at all.)UNIQUENESS - 4/5 (This was a unique take on a real event. This concept was my fav part of the book.)ENJOYMENT - 2/5 (Like I said I was constantly confused and disappointed by the reveals and resolutions. There was little to enjoy about this book for me.)
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