An alluring adventure in a future without food.
Thalia’s grandparents were farmers, but climate change and war have wreaked havoc on food supplies. Now, nobody farms, and nobody eats. Everyone drinks the nutritional beverage Synthamil, provided by megacorporation One World. Regular inoculations containing benzodiazepines and something unexplained that Thalia’s mother invented suppress hunger, sexuality and moods. Talking about food—“forno,” or food porno—is forbidden. But Thalia’s stomach is growling: She’s not supposed to be, but she’s hungry. Leaving behind her pristine, hologram-landscaped neighborhood, she finds (and falls for) Basil, a boy in the outskirts who’s created a machine to generate food aromas. Swain’s romantic food descriptions trounce the dryly presented benefits of this society (there’s supposedly no starvation or crime, which isn’t true but also hardly seems to matter stacked against juicy fantasies of roast chicken and french fries). Thalia’s brown-skinned, but privilege here is all about class; being a computer-hacking “privy” herself, Thalia’s shocked that an underclass lives in poverty and that desperate people from all classes are so hungry they’re eating dirt. Thalia and Basil’s activism with underground networks gets them labeled by One World as outlaw terrorists; they run away and stumble into a cultlike secret community that holds disturbing ties to the city. Despite some loose worldbuilding and predictability, this is a page-turner that wants a sequel.
Emotionally satisfying dystopia with a generous helping of forno. (Dystopian romance. 14-17)