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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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This review requires a bit of back story to put into context. I have an obsession with angels. Obsession. It sounds cliché, but I blame my mother. She collected angels in my childhood, so everywhere I looked in our house I saw an angel. As I have gotten older, her obsession has become my obsession. So you can imagine my glee when I discovered Alexandra Adornetto’s Halo. The book doesn’t come out until August 31st, I was able to get hold of an ARC. Keep that in mind as you read my review, I am reviewing the ARC. Here is the description of Halo according to Amazon (and also the back of the book):

Three angels are sent down to bring good to the world: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. But she is the most human, and when she is romantically drawn to a mortal boy, the angels fear she will not be strong enough to save anyone—especially herself—from the Dark Forces.

Is love a great enough power against evil?

Another side note for your consideration, I have a cat named Gabriel (Furthering my angel obsession? Maybe). I was very excited to start this book. I mean, it’s about angels, what could go wrong? The answer to that meant-to-be rhetorical question was evident within the first thirty pages. In those first thirty pages, I began to feel like this book was more Christian fiction than teen fiction (as the back of the book says it is). It seemed almost like the book was wishing to convert me to Catholicism. I managed to get past that, and as I did I began to get into the story. It took me a week to read thirty pages; it took me two days to read the rest.

The greatest asset of this entire book was the likability of the characters. Bethany and her love interest that shall remain nameless are both such genuine characters. You find yourself hoping for them, wanting for them, and wishing for them. The supporting cast helps as well. Gabriel and Ivy provide a contrast to the rest of the world. And the villain, oh the villain, is so well thought up, I could actually hear the malice in his words. But there was one crippling, continuous mistake throughout the book that kept pulling me out of the story.

There were countless editing mistakes that were so distracting from the story that at one point I was reading for them. The mistakes varied from saying ‘to’ instead of ‘too,’ to calling characters by the wrong name, to obvious sentence edits gone bad by leaving remnants behind. (For example on that last one: It would be like writing this sentence then going back and changing it. It would be like be writing this that sentence then back going, changing it.) Bear in mind, I was reading an ARC, so I cannot say for sure whether this is how the actual book will read, all I can say is that it interrupted my experience.

All in all, I liked the storyline, liked the characters, but the execution set it back. As much as I found wrong with it, I will be reading the sequels (Hades [Fall 2011] and Heaven [Fall 2012]). The story is too good not to continue. I can only remain hopeful the execution improves with time.

In keeping with the story, I am giving Alexandra Adornetto’s Halo an angelic three feathers out of five.

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I’ll admit it, I saw the movie before I’d ever heard of the book. It’s best we get that out of the way immediately. I watched it because I’m one of those good boyfriends who watches chick flicks and uses his girlfriend as an excuse when really it’s because the movies are good. True story. But anyway, after watching the movie, I don’t remember who, but someone said i just HAAAAD to read the book. So we bought the book, Amy or myself, it’s hard to tell who nowadays. She read it first of course, and then she said i just HAAAAAD to read the book. So I, being the good excuse-using boyfriend I am, read the book.

I’ll start off by saying that if you saw the movie, you have to read the book. The book is infinitely better than the movie. Partly because of time constraints and partly because of changes made in the movie to ease the process of creating it. This story says a lot about relationships and loss and how you can lose someone without them ever being gone. It tells of love that defeats, love that is envied, love that is tested. It truly is a very good read.

I may like it most because of how human the characters are. Henry, the male lead, is a real prick, but in the good way. Clare, the female lead, is a living, breathing contradiction of herself and everyone else around her. Gomez, my least favorite character, is the only one I can’t say anything good about, because he was that well written. He played his role so well I refuse to say something good about him.

The plot obviously follows the wife of the time traveler. What you don’t infer from the title is that the book is written in both hers (Clare’s) and his (Henry’s) perspective. The two-POV narrative style gives the story a whole new dimension. You may learn something about Henry and get to watch as Clare discovers it. Or you may learn something about Clare and listen as she reveals it to Henry. It gives you a good hard look into the inner workings of a working relationship. The time traveling is almost a sub-plot. The main plot, as I observe it of course, is the story of the relationship between the time traveling Henry and his eccentric, artistic wife Clare. It goes from the  beginning (in a library for Henry and in a field ten years earlier for Clare) to the very end. I won’t ruin the ending, don’t worry. If you’re a fan of romance novels, or Nicholas Sparks’s love stories that aren’t romance novels, this should be high up on your To Be Read list. If not, throw it somewhere in the middle. Be warned though, the book is much darker than the movie. Don’t expect the same level of family-friendliness.

In keeping with the book, I’m giving it three violins out of five.

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