Hunger by Jackie Kessler

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Review e-book from NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

“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 battle her own inner demons?

This is the first book in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Kessler. The first horseman she has chosen is Famine. Lisa is tasked with this job when after months of struggling with bulimia she overdoses on medication her Mum has. Whilst unconscious she is visited by Death, who offers her two choices: die, or live as Famine. In a confused state she chooses the latter. When she wakes up she sees the scales and her horse but thinks she is just having a breakdown. When she finally realises what is going on she is in for a shock. She travels to places were people are gorging on food, and places where children are starving. She has to learn to control her rage, find a way to help those with nothing and face up to, and fight War – a dominating and intimidating lady. Will she ever stop being Famine? What will happen to her and her health if she does?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Lisa a lot. I felt so sorry that she was having eating-related issues. This is a big problem in Western society, and I think Kessler deals with the issue well – she addresses the way it can manifest, the thoughts the person has, what it can lead to and the effect it has on others. It was thoughtful and provoking. Of course, her solution to the problem, making Lisa famine, isn’t realistic but I thought it was great that Lisa overcomes her problems and is willing to accept help and counselling.

I thought the story was very good. It is full of different, eccentric characters – such as Death, who sat on his horse singing. He just made me laugh! There were some characters who we needed to get to know before we liked – such as Lisa’s Mum, some characters who were a bad influence, such as her bulimic friend and others who were just lovely, like her Dad. This range of characters added depth and interest to the book.

This is a fantasy young adult book, but one I enjoyed very much. It was well written and researched. It took me a couple of days to read through. I laughed, enjoyed the storyline, and could have cried in some places. Really worth reading.

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