Sci-Fi Review: ‘Hunger Makes the Wolf’ by Alex Wells

“You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.”

Scavengers in the air tip off three people biking across the vast desert of the planet on their way home. Hob draws the short straw and checks out the body finding someone she knows well. When a body is found out in the dunes of Tanegawa’s World there is no real secret as to how it arrived there; the corporation TransRift runs everything on the planet and unofficial deaths are not uncommon. But events will soon prove that her now dead ‘Uncle’ got into something over his head. There are secrets that TransRift means to keep.

Hunger Makes the Wolf is a fast paced adventure novel with a surprising amount of depth. Though it has two central characters who hold their own it is Tanegawa’s World itself that takes center stage. Through it we learn very little about the universe around it but enough to know that it is much more important than its status as small mining colony suggests. The company controls everything, being blacklisted from work is a death sentence of its own but as seen in the opening so is a push from a moving train with multiple bullet wounds.

Through flashbacks we see glimpses of how TransRift controls this land. Long hours with little concern for safty. The aforementioned blacklisting of employees stuck on a world with no other options for work. And soon enough, when Mag’s family finally saves the money to send her off world to another life, we see just how far the company is willing to go in order to keep their secrets.

Hob takes the main role in this adventure, acting as the glue between several story lines that all come back to TransRift’s control. She is one of the Gray Wolves, a mercenary crew living on the edge of society. She is also a witch, controlling fire though not quite understanding why or how. This and her non-company sanctioned employment make her a prime target for TransRift’s wraith. Mag is her longtime friend, though an old wound has kept them apart, who starts as a damsel in distress that quickly comes into her own. The two of them are fun to read about; make no mistake they carry the story through their own decisions and actions. But as stated above, it is the world of Tanegawa’s World and TransRift’s control of it that drive this book.

The problem is the proprietary information TransRift holds; especially the mysterious ‘Weatherman’ who are necessary for space travel and so much more. For those looking for just a bit of horror in their sci-fi the Weatherman should meet all needs nicely; deliciously creepy and plenty powerful without seeming completely invincible(just mostly so). How Tanegawa’s World fits into the big picture, and what the seemingly benevolent but fairly powerless government plans to do about it, are just a few of the mysteries Mag and Hob may find themselves involved in.

There are a lot of cool aspects to Hunger Makes the Wolf. It is an adventure novel. It has cool mysterious beings like the Weatherman (oh, and wait until you meet the Bone Collector). It has universe spanning implications going on in the small scale; always focused and never to ambitious for its scope. But it also does have two kick ass heroines; they are who they are because of the world they live on sure, but also because they learn from mistakes and take charge of situations.

Obviously a first book in a series there are answers to be found but many more questions to be asked when all is done. There were a few quibbles to be had about the Gray Wolves and their longevity in a world under such strict production control, and a few things about their structure were either underdeveloped or coming in upcoming books. But never did it really affect my enjoyment of the story.

Angry Robot has really upped its game lately; this is one of their best recent releases. Strong debut and I hope for a sequel to start answering a few more of my questions.

4 Stars

Copy for review provided by publisher

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21 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Review: ‘Hunger Makes the Wolf’ by Alex Wells

  1. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I read something from Angry Robot. I just haven’t been drawn to their new titles lately, so it’s great to hear you think they’ve upped their game. Glad to hear this one is worth checking out.

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    • Funny how this is turning into a Angry Robot discussion but its true. They used to hit quite often; zoo city and moxieland, Triump, I have several of their books on my shelf. Then nothing for a while. But Hurley’s series and now this give me hope.

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  2. I’m not as familiar with Angry Robot as everyone else seems to be, but this sounds too intriguing to pass up. Ever since you dubbed it something like “coporationpunk,” I’ve had my eye on it. Thanks for the review!

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    • Angry Robot is a smaller press but they have had some good stuff over the years. Lauren Beukes is probably their best know success story. I always liked that their stuff went strait to mass paperback because that is what I collect personally (because they are cheap) .

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  3. I admit I like Angry Robot – I’ve had some great books from them Ferrett Steinmetz, Andy Remic, Anne Lyle and Wesley Chu – just off the top of my head. This sounds good and I do recall seeing it – I didn’t request because I’m trying to be Mrs Sensible – which is really tough going but I’m trying to cut my review books down to about 3 or 4 a month so the rest of the books I read are my own. So, I probably will pick this up – in my own time with no deadline pressures + Bone Collector = colour me intrigued.
    Lynn 😀

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    • i forgot about Lyle. To be clear, not putting down the imprint, just haven’t been in love with their releases for a few years (though I missed Chu and EVERYONE loved him). I am just remembering Hearthwood, The Waterborn Blade, Blades of the Old Empire (well lots of blades). I WANT the imprint to hit hard like it used to.

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      • Haha don’t get me wrong. I’m not their fierce defender but I have had some good books from them. Not Waterborn Blade though. I really didn’t enjoy that one.

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  4. This sounds so cool! Any time witches are mentioned I’m here for it, and there’s something about riding motorcycles through the desert that just seems so badass. Plus: the Bone Collector! I’m intrigued…

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