Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hunger by Jackie Kessler

Hunger by Jackie Kessler
2010; Harcourt Graphia



Summary

“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? (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

"Issue" books are very common in the young adult world. Death, drugs, depression, eating disorders...you name it. It gives the author an easy plot arc - start down in the depths and build yourself up to recovery in some fashion.

Hunger is an "issue" book in the sense that the main character Lisa has a severe case of anorexia. It does follow the familiar plot arc, but does so in a unique manner - by incorporating fantasy. Lisa is chosen to be one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Appropriately, she is chosen to be Hunger.

Lisa's anorexia is the dominant theme of this book. Her life revolves around it. She dropped friends who questioned her health and attached herself to bulimic Tammy, who eggs her on. While the reader hates manipulative Tammy, I definitely see why Lisa is friends with her - it's comforting to have someone who understands the way you think and the way you eat. Lisa's inner voice is her constant nemesis. Always telling her that she's not thin enough. To everyone else she looks gaunt, but Lisa's voice points out all her flaws, real and imaginary. The author portrayed the inner voice well, showing just what kept Lisa from eating or changing. I thought it was an accurate reflection of the anorexic frame of mind.

The fantasy aspect - the Horsemen - is quite strange. Lisa wonders around on her horse making people starve to death. It was interesting, although a bit of a stretch. Some fantasies are so well-described that I almost believe it's true no matter how magical it is. Although Hunger is well-written, I never came close to believing it.

I loved Death. He seems like a sensitive thinker who's taken on the image of Kurt Cobain. While I don't want to get close to Death, Death as a person seems pretty cool. Pestilence was creepy, but good for Lisa. He helped her understand that her role as Hunger can either be a force for evil or a force for good. War is evil. Out for herself and full of hatred.

It was interesting how having the power to determine whether people starved or thrived helped Lisa come to terms with her anorexia. While the plot itself is a bit odd, I really liked the path Lisa took to discovering the value of her body and her health. She discovered the meaning of friends and family.

Definitely an interesting novel.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

17 comments :

  1. What I liked most about this book was Death. He was a really interesting character. Great review!

    Jess @ Gone with the Words

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  2. Sounds like an interesting way to present an eating disorder theme, one I think I might have to look into. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I really like how this book protray something real. At least for me! Nice review!

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  4. I've heard the character of Death in this series is very cool, so I definitely want to read so I can meet him. I really like the approach to dealing with "issues" in this book with the fantastical element, but I do like to be able to believe it which seems like it's a little difficult to do:)

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  5. Great review. The anorexia plot sounds interesting, especially if it has a great resolution, but I can relate to not believe the horse theme. Sometimes things happen in a book and you just can't believe it no matter how hard you try. And it's not the readers fault. Thanks for the honest review.

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  6. I'm not a fan of issue books, but this one sounds very interesting.

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  7. This is an interesting approach to such an issue. Great review!

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  8. Heh, yeah, it sure sounds like an interesting novel. And very, very strange. I don't really know what to think of it, honestly. It's funny that the character of Death is "pretty cool," haha.

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  9. Death is my favorite character in these books. He's Kessler's most developed character and, I think, the glue that holds the books together.

    I didn't like Hunger so much but I thought that Rage was much better. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series because with each book Kessler gets better and better.

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  10. I've been debating and debating with myself whether to read this series... I've heard Rage is awesomeness!

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  11. I loved Death - (which is weird when I read that sentence) His character was as cold as I imagine a horseman but he wasn't sunshine and rainbows... He was nuetral?

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  12. I think I'm one of the few people who really, really loves this series. I enjoyed this book - though strange, it was new and fresh. Fab review, Alison!

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  13. I like your honest review! I've read mixed reviews. I have it in my TBR pile. I'm much of an "issue" book reader. But I'm willing to give it a shot.

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  14. Nice review, Alison :) I had trouble with the fantasy parts, too. I just didn't understand how exactly they worked. I thought she did a fantastic job with the anorexia parts though.

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  15. I have this on my shelf. You have totally sold me on it by Death bieng Kurt Cobain *swoon*

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  16. Great review! This sounds like an interesting read, even if it is a little strange. I think I'm going to add it to my TBR list. Thanks!

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  17. Right, this book is going straight onto my wish list. I have read some other reviews that have made me think 'maybe' and they have finally all added up. Yip wish list it is. I usually stay away from books that deal with these kind of themes but I think I will really enjoy this.

    Thanks

    :)

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