Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse KesslerHunger by Jackie Kessler
Series: Riders Of The Apocalypse #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2010-10-18
Genres: Adolescence, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 180
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Jackie Morse Kessler’s Riders of the Apocalypse series follows teens who are transformed into the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.   In Hunger, 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.

Lisabeth Lewis does not have an easy go of it. Plagued by an inner demon known as the thin voice, Lisa is anorexic. Food occupies the vast majority of her thoughts. Everything she eats is thought of in terms of calories and how long she needs on the exercise bike to burn off any potential weight she might have gained. This obsession with food makes Lisa an excellent candidate for the position of Famine, one of the four horseman of the apocalypse and the main premise of Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler.

I know I have said before that I rarely read issues books, but I may be converting. Let’s face it, anorexia is a huge issue for teen girls. They are bombarded with image of the impossibly thin female beauty ideal. That’s got to be damaging to self-esteem, to be consistently told you are not beautiful because you are not model thin. And I know it’s bad when even I succumb to it and call myself fat, even though I’m one of the littlest people I know. So, I think Kessler takes on the issue in a refreshing new way. I love the touch of the fantastical. To me, the horsemen was a stroke of brilliance. I dabble in post-apocalyptic fiction, yet haven’t come across the four horsemen. SO void, consider yourself filled.

I won’t lie, however, and say I had an instant connection with Hunger. In the beginning it was hard for me to connect. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Lisabeth and her friend Tammy the Tool, not to mention Lisa’s lacking backbone. But as she went through self-discovery, she started to grow on me. Finally, her ending impressed me. It’s odd, but when a book has an ending I love, I tend to forget my ambivalence towards the book, which is definitely what happened with Hunger.

ALSO, Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler is released in paperback not hardback, so buying it won’t be a waste of your money. Sorry, this may make me a jerk, but I really think 16$ is a waste of money for a hardback with less than 200 pages, so good call Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on publishing Hunger in paperback.

Finally, a small preview of the writing style, which I quite liked:

“But deep in our souls, or our collective unconsciousness, we know those things we hesitate to define are there, walking among us. We know, even if we don’t see.” pg. 114

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I agree, I don’t think anything with under 200 pages should be in hardcover!

    I’m looking forward to reading this. And Rage too!

  2. I keep seeing this and had no idea what it was about. I thought it was actually something paranormal romance or fantasy. lol. This one sounds interesting! Have you ever read Wasted by Myra Hornbacher or something like that? I have it on my shelf but keep meaning to read it.

  3. So true that there is a real horseman gap in YA apocalyptic lit!

  4. The premise of this novel really fascinates me. I’d read it just because I’m curious to see how it’s all put together!

  5. I have this one from NetGalley, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews, but the idea sounds really interesting to me, so I’m definitely planning on giving it a try.

    And you’re totally right…paying $16 for a hardcover that’s only 200 pages is a bit ridiculous…Good thing it’s in paperback!

  6. Fab review April. I’ve read some mixed opinions about this one, but from what you’ve said there’s enough there to interest me and (eventually) to make it the kind of book you’re glad you read. I’m the same way with endings, to be honest – if the ending is strong enough it can really turn around my opinion of a book.

    Interesting about the paperback thing too. Here in the UK most books are published in paperback right away, which means imported US books are often my only hardback purchases for months at a time.

  7. I would have loved this book if there had been more too it. I thought her self-discovery was done really well, but kind of felt like the horseman bit was tossed in to put a new spin on anorexia books. Because the book was so short, the 4 horsemen thing felt more like a gimmick to me than a necessary part of the story, which made me sad.

    • I agree with you about how it would have been better if there was more. I would have loved to read more about the horsemen.

      Fair point about the gimmick, but I disagree, I thought it was woven in pretty well. 🙂

  8. I bet that this book would make a good audiobook. There are some novels that I don’t particularly enjoy listening too, but I am betting that this would be a good one. I loved your review, I was on the fence with this book, but I’ll be adding it to my wishlist. Just making my list a little LONGER. ;}

  9. You’ve won an award!

    Kate @ Literary Explorations

  10. I tend to shy away from issues books too. But I think I’ll give this one a chance. Isn’t the title alone so striking? “Hunger” … love it.


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