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Hunger: Review

Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Release Date: October 18th, 2010
Published By: Harcourt Graphia
Goodreads Rating: 3.72 stars

Synopsis: “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?

Review: Hunger was definitely a strange book, and not one I initially liked. It had a kind of surreal tone to it, with heart-wrenching prose that sometimes felt like punches to the gut, and while I normally like that, the weirdness of the plot threw me off a bit. When I got used to the fact that this is in no way a regular paranormal book (I wouldn't call it paranormal, period, and this absolutely isn't exactly traditional fantasy), I started to enjoy it. But maybe "enjoy" isn't the right word. This is the sort of book that makes you think.

I've read too many anoxrexia/bulimia books to count, but if you think this is like any number of those books, you're wrong. It was refreshing to read a totally different approach to eating disorders, and it's also nice to keep in mind that a portion of the proceeds earned when you purchase a copy goes to a charity for such disorders. (Unfortunately, I didn't know about this and so I got mine from the library.) And though this book could get depressing at times, there were clever things the author wormed into the pages, little humorous asides and remarks that could make you smile.

Lisa was an excellent character. She had a full, well-rounded personality that was given a lot of focus despite the book's short length, because the paranormal parts weren't melting in the spotlight like a lot of books I've read. In the under-200 pages, Lisa grew as a character in a way that felt natural for someone who struggled with self-esteem and self-worth issues, which are something that everyone has to face when they're teenagers. She's easy to relate to and didn't feel boring or flat at any point.

The only thing I didn't like as much about this book was its length. As has been mentioned, it's quite short, and while it didn't feel like it had an abrupt ending, I do think a little more could have been done with it. I was a little surprised at one point when I realized there were only twenty pages left, and I think that some of the characters could have been explored more. 

Overall, this was a surprisingly excellent read that can make you really think. While not overly-angsty, it's powerful but manages to have humor in it, especially with the characterized Death. Hunger is an odd little book that will stay with you long after you've put it down.

Grade: B+


Anonymous said...

Great review. This book keeps popping up at the moment, and whilst I am yet to read it, a lot of other reviews seem to agree with your views, in terms of powerful prose but disappointing shortness.I hope I manage to aqquire a copy sometime soon :)

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