Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: "Hunger" by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Hunger
Series: Riders of the Apocalypse #1
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher: Graphia
Year: 2010

"“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

I am speechless. 

Just kidding. I have a lot to say about this book. First of which should be that it was amazing. It is great to have a book that has a nice blurb. I mean when you hear about a book that’s about an anorexic girl who becomes Famine, one of the four Riders of the Apocalypse, what do you think? I thought that this is the coolest thing I have ever heard!

Jackie Morse Kessler publishes under two names. One is this one and the other is Jackie Kessler. Before this one I knew only of her adult works. But boy. While her adult works were highly entertaining, then here she touches on topics that most authors either shy away from or do not manage to quite execute in a way that is believable. Kessler’s writing style is very enjoyable, the pages of the book fly by with a blink of an eye.

Speaking of flying by, this book is not a particularly long one. I cannot decide if that is good or bad. Bad in the sense that I wanted more. I wanted to keep reading about what Famine does, what happens to Lisabeth. But the book is so perfectly paced. I have a feeling that adding or cutting anything else might have disturbed that. So all in all, I would say that it is a good thing. Kessler does not need fillers, her own story is too compelling. Plus, short or not, this book packs the punch of a book two to three times that long.

On to the story. The blurb sounded awesome. And the story does not disappoint. There are good ideas out there. And there is no shame in doing something that has an established coolness, as long as it is well done. But the idea in “Hunger” is the most original thing I have read. And aside from the fantastic idea, it is not only the blurb that is cool. The book itself holds up to the promise and it is a rollercoaster.
And I like that the problem of eating disorders was not pushed to the background of the fantasy element. It gives an amazing insight to what people who have that kind of a problem think. For a moment it all seems logical. And then you distance yourself from it and realize how it really is a disease. Sure, it is something that goes on in their heads (at first), but that does not make the problem any less real. I am sure every girl (and I imagines most guys) have the days when they feel bigger than they should. The “thin” voice that Lisa has… I am sure it intimately calls to many readers. I did not know whilst reading this that Kessler had a problem with an eating disorder when young, so I was especially amazed with how believable it all was. But I guess that sort of understanding only comes out of actually having experience with it.

The protagonist is an anorexic seventeen year old girl, Lisabeth. She herself does not believe she has an eating disorder, believing that if she were anorexic then she would be thin. I think Lisa is impossible not to sympathize with. I may not agree with what she thinks, but she so strongly believes in what she does that it really got to me. Sadly what she does is not the least bit positive. But she really grows as Famine. For this story she is the perfect heroine. Not perfect in the sense that she is pretty and smart and confident. But her flaws make her… well... flawless (that sounded a lot more elegant in my head)
We have a few side characters. Tammy is Lisa’s friend who is bulimic. It is kind of odd to see how Lisa idolizes her. I do not want to give anything away so I will leave this at that.
She has a caring father, a distant mother and a nice boyfriend. But I have to say, I immensely enjoyed Death as someone who looks like Kurt Cobain, singing Nirvana songs and having the, and I quote, “A gallows humour”. 

All in all this is an amazing book. It deals with a delicate subject with a touch of fantasy. I loved it and I think it would give insight to many. I really recommend it to everyone. It gets five stars. Serious ones.

 This review has been brought to you by your Book Mistress for the day.


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