Review: Hunger

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: HungerHunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
Series: Riders of the Apocalypse #1
Published by Graphia on October 18, 2010
Genres: Mythology, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 177
Format: ARC
Source: ALA

“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?

While the book does eventually come out on the side of not being anorexic, reading the sections where Lisabeth (what kind of a name is that anyway?) wishes she could be bulimic is (pardon the incredibly awful pun) nauseating. Add to this the constant interruptions of the Thin voice, which constantly reminds Lisabeth that “Anorexics don’t have muffin tops,” so she is not anorexic. The voice tells her not to eat and mocks her. This may be how it feels to have an eating disorder, as the author reveals at the end that she suffered from bulimia for a time. but it drove me crazy.

Perhaps worst of all are some of the delightful scatological scenes that come along with a book centered largely on anorexia and bulimia. After her first night working as Famine, there is a lovely description of Lisabeth’s really painful poo. Later, when she spends time with Tammy, the reader is treated to an even more detailed description of vomiting. Certainly this might be off putting to a teen considering throwing up as a method of weight loss, but it also urged me to keep far away from any other books this series may have.

Although this book is technically fantasy (and I marked its genre as fantasy for lack of a better heading), Hunger is far more about eating disorders than about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In fact, the whole fantasy frame story could easily be read as a dream that motivates Lisabeth to change her ways. The fantasy elements never feel real and are only a vehicle for keeping the book from being preachy.

I do not particularly recommend this book. If you really like books that deal openly with tough teen issues, like Speak does, then this book may interest you. This not being my niche area, I am just glad the book was really short.

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