Hob was an orphan plucked out of the sands of Tanegawa’s World, a desert planet owned by the TransRift corporation. She is saved and raised by Old Nick, leader of the mercenary Ghost Wolves that serves the mining and farming towns trying to scratch a living on a strange planet. After finding the body of Nick’s brother in the desert, Hob exposes a TransRift conspiracy that is covering just how strange the planet truly is.
The big comparison everyone seems to be making to this book is that it’s Dune, but with biker gangs. The setting is similar to Dune's in that Hunger Makes the Wolf takes place on a desert planet and some characters have access to odd mystical powers. There may be more similarities that could be picked up by someone who read Dune in the last decade, but I think ultimately the comparison sets the book up as something of a disappointment. While politics plays an important part of the plot, it pales in the light of strong character development and awesome action moments.
The first half of the book, personally, was a drag to get through. I have a rule that if I’m not enjoying a book by page 100, I stop reading. Far too often I gave bad books a chance and felt like I wasted my time at the end of them. I stuck with this because while I wasn’t itching to find out what happens next, I can’t say I disliked it. It just felt dull and flat in places and I couldn’t really see where it was going.
The second half picks up with more characters being introduced, and I found that irritating at first. A new Vice President from TransRift is installed, and so is a corporate spy who ends up a major character. This felt off—halfway through is very late in the game to introduce a perspective character, but ultimately the payoff works.
After some major events that I thought failed to impress (including the revenge plot of a character we barely saw), Hob transforms into an absolute badass. It isn’t a sudden change in her character that is unwarranted; the development is organic as Hob steps up to the plate to become the person she was always meant to be—the person she was pushed to be. By the end, I absolutely loved Hob. She isn’t your generic action female, she is no femme fatale and she is no Mary Sue. She has flaws and blind spots, and the unique flavour of a Western heroine on an unforgiving planet.
I also love the contrast between Hob and her best friend Mag. Hob smokes, dresses in men’s clothes and swears like a sailor, but being masculine isn’t what makes her badass. Mag, on the other hand, is feminine, sews and dresses in skirts—she even has a damsel in distress moment early in the book, but it serves for her own development far more than Hob’s. Hob and Mag compliment each other and never is one held up as better than the other.
Hunger Makes the Wolf looks to be the first in a new series, and while I was lukewarm at first I am eager to find out what happens to Hob in future installments. If you pick this up, I urge you to stick with it. Despite setting up for a sequel, the ending is satisfying and feels rather self-contained; should the worst happen and no sequel comes, this book is good enough to stand on its own.
Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells was published on March 7th, 2017 by Angry Robot, and is available wherever fine books are sold.
Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.