Saturday, July 3, 2010

Review - Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (4.5/5 stars)

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.  When I saw that it was about a girl who gets forced into the job of Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I was intrigued.  This book is a very short read, but was an interesting and well-done book.  I enjoyed it.

Lisabeth Lewis is anorexic, and she is getting worse and worse.  She is so bad at this point that her brain is getting fuzzy and she is always cold.  Then one day a delivery man brings her a package, it is a set of scales...and a black horse.  The next day she thinks maybe it was all a dream; she did after all try to overdose on antidepressants that same night.  Then she get a visit from Death and he gives her a choice; Lisabeth can be Famine or Death can kill her.  Lisabeth decides, despite her recently attempted suicide, that she will try out the Famine thing.  Little does she know that her refusal to eat may be affecting hunger in different parts of the world.  She will also find that Famine doesn't have to be a force of evil, but can be a force of hope.

This book was really well done.  First and foremost it tackles the issues of eating disorders.  Previously I have read Wintergirls and that was a very well done book that showed the harm eating disorders can do to a person and their family.  This book does the same thing, but it includes some gallows humor, is witty, and of course has the Four Horsemen in it. 

I was impressed with how well Kessler integrated eating disorders with the mythos behind the Four Horsemen.  I was impressed with Lisabeth as a character; Kessler really gets in Lisabeth's head and shows the readers what drives Lisabeth's eating disorder.  I enjoyed that Lisabeth's parents, boyfriend, and old best friend all questioned her health and were supportive of her getting help.   It was nifty how Lisabeth figured out how to use her powers to help people; and it was just cool to watch Lisabeth use her powers as Famine in general.

This book is fast-paced and packs a lot of story for its short length.  I had a really hard time putting it down.  It also packs a lot of humor.  Death is an incredibly amusing and funny character.  Even War and Pestilence have intriguing personalities.

If I have one complaint about this book it is that I would have liked to see more scenes and adventures with Lisabeth acting as Famine.  As a bonus the author includes an afterward in which she discusses her personal struggles with eating disorders and eating disorders of her friends.

Overall this was an excellent read.  It tackles the issue of eating disorders in a realistic way that is meaningful but not absolutely heartbreaking.  There is some great witty humor throughout the book and Lisabeth's powers as Famine are pretty neat.  The story wrapped up nicely and ended well.  I look forward to reader more of Kessler's works in the future.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Debut Author Challenge
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge


  1. I can't wait to read this one! Thanks for the review--Now I just want it more!

  2. I'm looking forward to this ever since I heard about it in April. The review was quite helpful. Can't wait to read it!