Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher: Harcourt Graphia
Publication Date: October 18, 2010
Series: Horsemen of the Apocalypse #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley
“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?
There are things about this book that I really liked, and some stuff that bugged me while I was reading it.

Things I liked:
  • The idea behind the book is a good one - an anorexic teenage girl being made into Famine. The premise intrigued me.
  • I think that the portrayal of anorexia is well-executed. The view into the thoughts and torments of girls with eating disorders was realistic and believable, as well as horrifying.
  • The characters are interesting and messed up. I particularly liked the way in which all of the Horsemen were characterized.
  • The way the book ended left me a little surprised, but I like the way in which it was done because I think that the message is the most important thing about this book.
Things that bugged me:
  • The narration - the narrative voice felt a bit fickle to me. The book mostly uses a third person omniscient narrative, but at several times throughout the narration, it switched over to a stream of consciousness type of deal in which we get Lisa's thoughts coming from the narrator. This happens as though the narrator is thinking them itself. That is, rather than the narrative saying that "Lisa thought, 'blah blah blah'", it would be stating the events taking place and then just interject one of her thoughts into the narrative as though the narrator were Lisa, which it obviously isn't. It was particularly irritating, since the voice of the ancient and ever-wise narrator was completely different from Lisa's, and would likely never think or say something like, "This is so freaking cool." It felt out of place, and it bothered me - things like that often do. Every time that it occurred I felt like the story was interrupted for me because I found myself stopping to be annoyed by it. This is probably my main reason for not giving the book a higher rating.
  • There kinda wasn't enough story for me. It's a really short book (right around 180 pages) - more like a novella, really - which would have been okay except that the pacing felt rushed in places. I would've liked it if more time were taken for further plot development and for there to have been more events over a little more time..just more, really.  
So, overall, I liked the idea and the characters. I think that it effectively shows how scary, gross, destructive, etc. that eating disorders are. And I think it's got a pretty good message at the end as far as the struggle for healing is concerned. If my issues with the narration and length/pacing aren't something that's going to bother you, then you'll probably find yourself more satisfied than I was. I liked it okay, but I didn't love it like I wanted to.

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the National Eating Disorders Association.


  1. I'm a late hopper here. It's good to see the things you did and didn't like laid out like that. Thanks for this review, I've read others so it's good to hear different opinions.

  2. I have given you an award: Congratulations!

  3. I also felt that the story was too short. I would have loved the first book of the series better if it was longer. Great review.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and helping me decide on what ereader I should use. I appreciate the help! :) Looking forward for your future reviews.


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