Hunger (by Jackie Morse Kessler) c. 2010

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
c. 2010
[Teen Fiction]

Seventeen-year-old Lisabeth Lewis has been visited by Death. But Death did not come to end her life—he came to give her a job. Now Lisa is Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lisa’s new occupation takes her to lands far from home where she is forced to see the devastating effects of hunger and come to terms with her own struggle with anorexia.

Jackie Morse Kessler’s debut teen novel packs a lot of punch for such a short book. The idea of the Horsemen is an original one and is well-executed for the most part. There are some points where Kessler becomes a little heavy-handed with her symbolism, but the novel is strong overall and effectively evokes an emotional reaction from the reader without resorting to sensationalism.

Jackie Morse Kessler has at least two more companion novels—Rage (April 2011) and Loss (2012)—that explore the stories of other Horsemen. If you enjoyed Hunger and are looking for something to read in the meantime, you might like Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Go Ask Alice by Anonymous, Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield, Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (see Carlen’s review here). All of these books tackle a variety of serious and painful topics maturely and honestly. The Lake Bluff Library also owns a variety of non-fiction books about anorexia and other eating disorders.

Pros: The novel tackles a very difficult and emotional issue in an effective and original way.

Cons: At times, the prose suffered from a lack of elegance and subtlety.

Review by Martha

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