Nelson Oliver doesn’t want to be at the Canaan Products job fair. The huge corporation makes the manna that most of the world now eats for sustinance. Nelson knows more about food science than almost anyone around and listening to the corporate folks drone on is boring him to tears. A hot man in his group does have Nelson’s attention however. A gorgeous guy with an eye patch catches Nelson’s eye and he can’t help but try to get Javier’s attention.
When the lights go out in the conference room and all hell breaks loose with gunshots and chaos, Nelson and Javier manage to escape the madness along with two other job applicants, Randy and Marianne. When they get outside, however, they find even more chaos with riots, traffic congestion, no working phones, and no one who seems to know what is going on or why. Fortunately they are rescued by a friend of Javier’s, Tim, who helps them all find refuge.
Even once they have made it to relative safety, clearly there is a lot more going on that just the downed power lines the news is reporting. In fact, Tim and Javier are pretty sure they can trace the conflict back to Canaan Products itself. Just what exactly is going on inside the walls of the corporate giant is something that no one quite knows, but that Nelson, Tim, and Javier are determined to find out. And while they are trying to help sort through the madness going on outside, the three men are also finding a connection that may carry them through the conflict.
I picked up The Starving Years recently when I saw it was free on Amazon. I hadn’t intended to read it for review, but I found myself so intrigued by the story that I wanted to share my thoughts with you all.
The story is a dystopian romantic suspense as Tim, Nelson, and Javier struggle to find their way to safety in the midst of the riots, as well as to use their combined abilities to figure out just what is going and to bring down the corporate giant responsible. Between Tim’s IT prowess, Javier’s journalist connections, and Nelson’s scientific skills, the three make a perfect team. I found the story exciting and the world the author created to be really fascinating. I love how the three men complement one another both in personality and skills. The focus isn’t primarily on the romance, but we have enough time with these guys to get a sense of them together and how they can build something. I wouldn’t have minded more time on the romantic end, but I do get why the focus is on the suspense side of things given the dire situation in which these guys find themselves.
I think this world where food has been replaced by manufactured sustenance is really interesting. Most of the world survives on basic, plain manna, a flavorless product that feeds most of the poor. Only the wealthiest had speciality flavors and textures and Canaan Products is the corporate giant behind it all. I do feel like as interesting as the world building was, I was still left with a lot of questions I would have loved answered, in particular, how this all came about and why. I also think that while we get a nice sense of each of the men’s personalities, I would have liked to get to know them a bit more in terms of their back stories, particularly Javier and Tim. Things also wind down in the story fairly fast and I would have liked more time at the end of the book to really tie things together, especially with their relationship.
All that said, I found this story really engaging. I honestly had no idea what to expect from the book, but as a huge fan of Jordan Castillo Price, I figured it was worth a try and I am really glad I gave it a shot. If you enjoy alternate world stories with some suspense and excitement built in, The Starving Years is definitely worth picking up.