Review: Hunger

Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler

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 fight her own inner demons?

I found this book at the library. It’s actually a novella–thin in comparison (bad joke, I know) to the other books I borrowed. The cover art and the description on the back really attracted me to the story.

Writing–4 wings

This novel drifted between appealing to a young crowd and being poetic. Eating disorders is a real serious topic, and while the novel does have a dark, brooding side, it is tempered by some moments of hilarity.

I liked how Famine was treated more like an entity living inside Lisa–like the dark, strong, powerful part of a person–and when Famine came out, there was no chapter break or scene break, Famine just did her work and then slipped back into Lisa quite naturally. This doesn’t always work in some novels, but the way it’s written, it works here.

Plot–4 wings

What drew me to the book was the idea of a teenager becoming one of the four horsemen. That’s different, I thought. Also, I’m a Supernatural fan, and I quite liked their interpretation of the horsemen, so I wanted to see what a YA author would do.

The story starts right away—BAM, she’s a horseman, and doesn’t quite know what to make of it. “Thou art the Black Rider–go thee out unto the world” is a bit slower, as she comes to terms with Famine’s powers of turning food into ash, and spoiler! Absorbing energy from people! I enjoyed what the author did with this at the end when Lisa tries to figure out how to use Famine’s power for good.

Characters–3 wings

None of the characters really reached out and grabbed me. It was hard to sympathize for Lisa because she was so consumed by the idea that she was fat, and yet, I believe that it was the author’s job to show us how someone with that mindset thinks. The father was a little creepy for my tastes, and an unexplored subplot dealing with the relationship between Lisa’s mother and father. I suppose I could say that my favourite character was Death, and Lisa’s horse. Yes, there is a horse that has a POV.

Overall–4 wings

It was really interesting to read a book with a character so consumed with the idea that she is fat, when really, she’s super duper thin. I also enjoyed the author’s note at the back of the book, where she talks about being bulimic–it was kind of like, pow! Now I know why the protagonist’s viewpoint was so intense. Worth a read, especially if you’re in the mood for some dark humour and some real sadness.