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 to 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?
Hunger is a topsy-turvy ride through darkeness and light. It was not quite what I was expecting, but I might have liked it all the more because of that.
Lisa, an anorexic teen, is the new Famine. As one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, it’s her duty to go out into the world and spread Famine. But Lisa has her own problems – always fighting with her boyfriend, not speaking to her best friend, and refusing to admit she has an eating disorder. Add being Famine to the list and Lisa is overwhelmed. At first it seems like her turbulant thoughts and anger will make her job as Famine to go smoothly. But Lisa soon realizes that being Famine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; her new outlook on life allows her to see that maybe – just maybe – her ex-best friend is right…she needs help.
Lisa is such a real, raw character. Her reactions were all very realistic…to the normal stuff, anyway. I’m not sure what reacting to becoming a Horsemen would be like, really. No one I have known (to my knowledge, anyway) has suffered from anorexia or bulimia, but the emotions that Jackie Morse Kessler evoked through her writing seemed quite truthful, to me. Lisa was calm and in control at times, and at others she was a basket case in denial. Although we didn’t see too much of the supporting characters, Lisa’s interactions with her family, boyfriend and friends were all very well realized. And the Horsemen? Were stark and dark. Death was by far my favourite. I hope we get to read his story.
The scenarios with Lisa and her friend Tammy together are heartbreaking. Tammy is extremely self-destructive in her behaviour, and Lisa is floating up denial without a raft. Weaving such an important subject into a mythical/biblical story was genius; are we even sure that Lisa really was Famine? Did Death, War and Pestilence exist? Or was Lisa just so far gone into hunger and weakness that it was all in her mind? Jackie’s writing drags you right in to Lisa’s headspace and doesn’t let you leave until the story’s been told. I was hooked from the beginning – Hunger is brilliant, and stays with you long after you turn the last page.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at NetGalley for providing me the eGalley of Hunger for review.