Released: October 18th, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-
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 fight her own inner demons?
When I first heard about Hunger, I thought it would be either really good or too strange to even contemplate. Luckily it was the former, and Jackie Morse Kessler sucked me straight into her dark, inventive story of a girl suffering from anorexia and how she becomes one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I know it sounds a bit out there, but trust me, it's brilliant.
Hunger reminded me of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, in the way it dealt with anorexia and how nothing was glossed over or forgotten about. The cold hard truth is that anorexia is an eating disorder that thousands of people suffer from, and if not treated, it can kill you. It's not something to glorify or encourage, and Morse Kessler does a fantastic job of conveying this through her writing and Lisabeth's story.
Lisabeth's somewhat mixed-up thought processes made sense to me the more I read, and I really started to understand her mindset, along with the reasons behind her anorexia. After becoming Famine, she learns about just what it means to be hungry, and how it can dessimate whole towns. With the help of Pestilance, War and Death, she rides out to experience life from a different side, and learns more about herself than she ever thought she would.
I know Hunger is Lisabeth's story, but I would have loved to see even more of the other Horsemen. Pestilance was strangely calm and cruel, War was just a fan of violence, and Death was the best of all - his way of looking at life had me cracking up, and he had the best dialogue by far. I hope he gets his own book in this series, as I think Jackie Morse Kessler has a real hit on her hands with this one.
As soon as I finished Hunger, I pre-ordered the next book in the series, Rage, straight away. There's something special about these stories, and I think it's the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that make them stand out from the crowd. It gives them a fantastical element, and at the same time keeps the characters grounded and their real-life struggles believable.