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Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Hunger (The Riders #1) by Jackie Morse Kessler
Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Teen Issues
Trade Paperback (GRAPHIA, 180 pages, $8.99)
ISBN# 0547341245
"Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world."
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?
A wildly original approach to the issue of eating disorders, Hunger is about the struggle to find balance in a world of extremes, and uses fantastic tropes to explore a difficult topic that touches the lives of many teens.

Author Site:

Strong look at eating disorders, weak storyline (4 stars)

When Lisabeth Lewis' suicide attempt is interupted by a deliveryman bequething her with the scales of Famine her world will forever change. Carefully calculated eating and exercising have ruled her life to the point the only voice that matters to her is the Thin voice. A voice of ridicule from somewhere deep inside, the Thin voice whispers calorie counts and tells Lisa she has no self control. But as Famine, Lisa must find the balance, a way to bring Famine's power into the world without losing all of herself in the process. That is, if the Red Rider—War—doesn't kill her first.

Many other reviewers have said it and I want to echo it—Kessler does an excellent job portraying characters with eating disorders. There is a profound realism to both Lisa's anorexia and her friend Tammy's bulemia. I know because I am a recovered anorexic. My one issue with the portrayal is that it only focuses on the eating disorders as weight issues. There is a whole other group of folks with eating disorders who use it as a form of self-harm (think cutting minus the blood and scars), a way to control something in their life. Eating disorders are heavily prevalent in today's society and I was very pleased to see Kessler wanted to deal with them and other teen issues through fictional means.

Aside from the vivid look at eating disorders, Lisa's actual story is pretty weak. It ended so soon and without much adventure I was a little disappointed. But there is potential for stronger entries as we meet the other Riders in upcoming books. I was more intrigued by Pestilence than any of the others so I hope we get to see his (or her) story after War's tale, Rage, which comes out in spring 2011.

Overall, I didn't love Hunger but I enjoyed it enough to want to read more Riders books. It also pleased me to see that a portion of proceeds from each book will go to an issue specific charity fitting to each book.

Other Reviews:

Notes: I received this an ebook review copy through NetGalley.

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