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Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Publisher (Publication Date): Graphia (10/18/10)

Pages: 180

Where to Purchase: Amazon, B&N, , Book Depository, Chapters, IndieBound.

Earlier this month, I discovered entirely by chance a little website called NetGalley. On this site, publishers give out e-books to reviewers for free in exchange for reviews of said e-books. I asked my friend and resident book blogging mentor Kim (of Twisted Fates’ Café) if she’d ever heard of NetGalley and whether it was legit. She laughed and said she’d been using it for a while and had just forgotten to tell me. In order to atone for her serious transgression, Kim was charged with giving me a recommendation on what book to request first. Her answer was Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler.

Hunger is the story of Lisabeth Lewis, a seventeen year old anorexic. On top of that, Lisa is also Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The story follows Lisa as she combats her own eating disorder while trying to face both the gluttony and the starvation of the world. The e-book version I received was 177 pages, so it was quite a change of pace from the 400 page bricks I have been reading. (Sidenote: One day I want to have a library in my house. And in this library, I want the arched doorframe to be made entirely of books, arch included.)

The book is very enlightening when it comes to eating disorders. I have never had anorexia or bulimia, but to date this book is the most vivid explanation I have ever gotten on the subject. And I had 10th grade Health class. It spared no expense when detailing exactly what it is to be anorexic. You have to deal with the inner demon (named the Thin Voice) just as much as Lisabeth does as it regales her with caloric value of every food she thinks of and how much she will have to exercise to work it off. It follows as her parents remain clueless, one friend enables her disease, and another friend and her boyfriend worry for her safety. My only warning on this subject is that when I say it is very detailed, I mean it. When I say you get to experience what it is to be bulimic, I mean that vividly and accurately. You know what that means. So to the queasy, be wary.

The other half of the story focuses on Lisa’s appointing as Famine by Death. Death is easily my favorite character. What person that grew up in the 90’s isn’t going to be charmed by a Kurt Cobain look-a-like that says things like “Thou art famine, yo”? And he even sings one of Nirvana’s songs. But enough about Death, let’s talk about Famine. I have never in my life read any fiction about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Even my biblical knowledge on the subject doesn’t go much farther than ‘they’re bad.’ I couldn’t even think of all four of their names! (Death, Famine, War, and who?… Pestilence.) The Horsemen plotline was a nice change of pace from the Lisabeth plotline. As Lisa, you deal with the self-centered issues of a main character, as you would expect, but as Famine, you deal with the worldly issues and what you can do to change them. It puts into perspective how bad the world can be, how great the world can be, and how little ten pounds affects the world around you.

All in all, Hunger was a great Saturday read. It is however a difficult read. The main characters struggles are very real and not to be taken lightly. The action kept it exciting and the character development kept you involved. The humor was well-placed and oft times laugh out loud funny. If you’re wondering, yes I did laugh out loud to “Thou art Famine, yo,” because of how ridiculous it is. If you have a free day, I recommend picking this book up. Do expect to finish it that day though, because as previously mentioned it is only 177 pages. That was the main shortcoming of this book, I feel like there could have been more. Its sequel Rage will be coming out in April so perhaps more of the story has been written. I’ll let you know. A portion of the proceeds brought in by Hunger will be donated to the National Eating Disorders Association which provides support to those suffering from eating disorders as well as their families. You can call NEDA toll free at 1-800-931-2237.*

In keeping with the story, I am giving Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler three scales out of five. I am not giving it a four (which was my initial reaction) because it isn’t a book that I can recommend for everyone (I don’t recommend it if you’re squeamish for example). The other main reason I didn’t give it a four was length. I felt the story could have been fleshed out more and at parts it seemed the storyline was rushed.

The sequel Rage releases April 4, 2011.

For the comments, did you know all four of the Horsemen before I told you?

*NEDA information from the Author’s Note at the end of Hunger.

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