by Jackie Morse Kessler
“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 was iffy when I received HUNGER, worried it was going to be a contemporary message book that would try to teach me something rather than tell a compelling story. But I'm trying to broaden my horizons and gave it a go... So glad I did.
WRITING: Haunting, evocative, eerie, honest and laced with humor - a weird mix, I know, but it works!
CHARACTERS: Real. Especially with the teenagers. Kessler authentically tapped into basic insecurities and laid it out so well that I understood and sympathized with Lisa and others. I hated The Thin Voice - an evil insidious thing that slithered into Lisa psyche and buried its poisonous fangs deep. My favorite character? Death! His "gallows humor" had me laughing - a charming philosophical fellow.
PLOT/PACING: Fast paced with an innovative twist on the Horsemen in general, and Famine in particular. I was blown away with how Kessler weaved Lisa's anorexia into the idea of Famine, and then contorted it like an Olympic gymnast into an angle so clever - Brilliant!
CAVEATS/CONCERNS: Be aware HUNGER gives frank, honest portrayals/descriptions of eating disorders which can be disturbing. Kessler had bulimia as a teenager which helps give her the authentic voice to tell it like it is, but HUNGER never goes overboard and is completely appropriate for the context.
COVER: Just the right touch of intriguing and creepy - and one of those that makes more sense once you read the book.
BOTTOMLINE: I wasn't sure how Kessler would mash a contemporary story of a girl's struggle with anorexia with the paranormal angle of the Four Horsemen but HUNGER delivers an extraordinary story - tragic, sad, yet full of hope. With an intriguing insight into a dark psychological state of mind, HUNGER is one of those rare finds that has a compelling story, educates you on a timely topic and delivers solid entertainment!
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Enter by 11/7/10