Tuesday, September 27, 2011

REVIEW: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Riders of the Apocalypse, Book One
Published 2010

Hunger is a modern story about a teenage girl struggling with anorexia and ties her story to the biblical mythology of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Seventeen year old Lisabeth is anorexic and while she thinks she's in control of it all, she's really spiraling further into trouble. No one seems to understand her anymore--not her parents, her best friend or even her boyfriend, and she feels as if everyone is sabotaging her road to happiness. The only one who doesn't feel like a threat to Lisa is her friend Tammy, but maybe that's only because Tammy has her own secrets about eating.

In a moment of despair, Lisabeth considers suicide but is interrupted by a messenger who hands her an ancient set of scales, telling her she is Famine, the Black Rider and to "go thee out unto the world." Of course, she thinks she hallucinated the whole thing, but sure enough, the scales are there in the morning and not only that, but there's a huge black horse in her yard who looks upon her intently with anticipation as if he expects her to ride him.

Once this strange new reality sinks in, Lisabeth reluctantly accepts her assigned role as Famine and begins her nightly rides upon her black horse, traveling to exotic places around the world where hunger, starvation and death are all too familiar to the people who live there. During the day, she continues to struggle with anorexia and the powerful Thin Voice within her while her relationships with the people who care about her the most begin to crumble. Being the harbinger of Famine gives Lisabeth a lot to think about as she witnesses unimaginable atrocities of hunger and fumbles with her new found power. The question is, though, is Lisa strong enough to control her power? And if so, what is she going to do with it?

Hunger is a stark and graphic look at teenage eating disorders through the characters of Lisabeth and Tammy--both of whom could be anyone from your friend, sister, daughter or even you. The author very creatively uses the biblical mythology of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to demonstrate the power of choice and how much inner strength, determination and hope someone has to have in order to fight anorexia or bulimia. Hunger is a very thought provoking, truthful and deeply profound book that twisted my gut, broke my heart, but also gave me hope for Lisabeth and anyone who struggles with an eating disorder.


Please, if you think there is any remote possibility that you might have an eating disorder... know you are strong enough to conquer it. Choose to live. Reach out for help. You can do it!

All proceeds from Hunger are donated to National Eating Disorders Association.

Visit young adult author Jackie Morse Kessler at her website at http://www.jackiemorsekessler.com/index.php.

The next book in the Riders of the Apocalypse is Rage [April 2011] and addresses the delicate teenage issue of cutting or self induced injury. This book is the story of the Horseman of War. All proceeds from Rage are donated to the organization To Write Love On Her Arms.

The author's future release in this series will be Loss [March 2012] and is the story of the Horseman of Pestilence. This book will address bullying and I believe a villain with a disintegrating mind. All proceeds of Loss will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

There will be a fourth book for the final Horseman, Death, but no details about that book yet.


  1. Sounds like a powerful book. Were the issues within handled without romanticizing them?

    I hope you're having a good week!

  2. Hi Brandy.
    The issues were definitely handled with truth and realism, not at all romanticized. In fact, I expected a certain happy ending when I got near the end of the book and was startled by what really happened. The book still ended on a positive and hopeful note, but by no means a fairy tale ending.

  3. You make it sound like an amazing, powerful book.

    I kind of tend to stay away from Issue books, but it seems like this one has a different angle.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I've been holding myself back on this book until all the others are out and am going read them all in one sitting! :D

    This review makes this book a sure thing. Thanks!

  5. Alex, the book is very powerful. I think while I was reading the book, I thought the parts about the girls and their eating disorders were extremely enlightening to me and the fantasy component was very good, but maybe more like a B read. But then by the time I finished I couldn't stop thinking about it all.. and I realized how powerful the whole book was. So I had to give it an A.

    The good news is that the book is on the short side, coming in at only 177 pages. This is good because it would really drag the book down and make it super depressing if you were reading about a topic as grave as eating disorders for a huge, long novel. The author does a fantastic job of writing a truthful story that's not sugar coated but very effective.

    little_alys, that's a great idea to wait for all four books so you can read them right in a row.

  6. What a great review! I've been wanting to read this one every since the whole WSJ incident as this was one of the books that they listed. I've got to pick it up now based on your review!

  7. Fantastic review Christine. I really think I would like to give this a go, even though I'm not really feeling the YA book love ATM :)

  8. Chrissy - It's partially self preservation. I'm a bit OCD when it comes to reading books that are good. Get too obsessed with reading more. I am very curious how the author handles these subjects and from the reviews I've read (such as your wonderful review), I feel both relieved that these issued will be told realistically, but also weary because of the subject matter. Oh, what contradictions. :D I can't wait to hear more of what you think. :)

  9. samantha, oooo do you mean this was one of the titles that the WSJ singled out in their debacle over the young adult literature? That is beyond shortsighted and ridiculous! Eating disorders are very real and very dangerous. Someone could read this book and recognize symptoms in a friend or even in themselves and reach out for help because of it. #YAsaves

    orannia, definitely look for this one! It's a quick one, too, at only 177 pages or so. By the time you pick it up and start reading... you're almost done! ; )

    little_alys, the author handles eating disorders in this book very well. While she tells it like it is, she has to if she really cares about the issues--which she so obviously does.

  10. I just love this series and can't wait for the next one!

  11. First off I must say, I LOVE the new layout! It's looking very nice. :-D Secondly, this book sounds good on so many levels. It hits on a very real issue that many girls face while also making an interesting story with a twist on the four horsemen! There seem to be a lot of books with the four horsemen coming out and I'm interested to check this one out! Great review, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm placing it on my TBR list right now! :-D


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