Book Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game CoverBook: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Published May 2016 by Balzer + Bray|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Crown’s Game #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Vika Andreyev can summon the snow and turn ash into gold.

Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air.

They are enchanters, the only two in Russia and, with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, a duel of magical skill. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter, even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has.

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Imagine The Night Circus, set in Russia, where the “winner” of a magical duel becomes the adviser to the tsar, and the loser dies, because only one enchanter can access the magic source…and you have The Crown’s Game. The Night Circus is a magical book, and this book was pretty magical, with a touch of politics.

I really liked learning more about Nikolai’s family, but I wish we knew more about Vika’s family.  I know that learning about Nikolai’s parents is much more important to the plot than Vika’s parents, but still.  I’m holding out hope that we learn more about them in the next book.

I really liked both Nikolai and Vika, and how different, but also complementary, their magic was.  It makes me a little sad that only one could survive but only one enchanter surviving makes a lot of sense.  I also feel pretty hopeful we haven’t seen the last of both Nikolai and Vika- I only say both because I don’t want to spoil what happens, because it took me off-guard.

And that leads me to Pasha, who I hate with a passion.  He is a complete idiot, and I hate that he became tsar. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time someone made bad decisions, and that people who aren’t good leaders become leaders anyway.  Still, his actions caused a lot of hurt for a lot of people, and while I get that he didn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions, he did get a very horrible wake-up call when he finally realized the effect his decisions had.  I hope he doesn’t try to get Vika back, because I don’t think she’ll have it. At all.  And even if he does, I hope she doesn’t give him another chance.  She deserves a lot better than the spoiled brat that is Pasha.

I also love that we have a fantasy novel set in Russia.  Shadow And Bone is the only other Russian-inspired fantasy I can think of, and Russia is the perfect setting for the book!  I love the story behind the magic and the Crown’s Game and the enchanters, and it all works really well together.  Skye did such a great job with the research, and she blends fantasy and history really well.  It’s such a believable story, and there were times where I forgot that magic wasn’t real because it blended so well into this world.

I expected something slightly darker to the duel, but the way that things went (at least initially) is what reminded me so much of The Night Circus.  For some reason, they are very good read-alikes, and I recommend it to anyone who loves The Night Circus.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the magic, and everything about it the duel (again, initially), but based on the summary, I thought it would be a lot more cutthroat than what we got.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I did want something darker/edgier than what we got but I also loved seeing the magic, and I liked the blend of history and fantasy.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things I Wanted To Learn About Because Of Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Things That Books Made Me Want To Learn About

One of my favorite things about reading is that it opens up my world, and makes me want to learn more about the things I see in books!  Reading makes me realize how little I know, so here are 10 things I want to learn more about and do.

History/Current Events:

  1. Where The Streets Had A Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah makes me want to learn about…the Israeli-Palestine conflict, because I know nothing about it except that it’s a thing.
  2. Surviving Santiago by Lyn Miller-Lachmann makes me want to learn about…the Pinochet regime.  Because knowing more about it would have really helped if I knew more about it before picking up this book.
  3. Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn makes me want to learn about…the revolution that happened in Egypt a while back.  I vaguely remember hearing about it on the news when it happened, but I don’t remember anything about what happened.
  4. Crow by Barbara Wright makes me want to learn about…the Wilmington Race Riots of 1898.  I didn’t even know this happened, and Crow made me want to learn more about it.
  5. Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys makes me want to learn about…the work camps in Siberia during WWII.  This was something that new to me, and I want to learn more about it.
  6. A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury makes me want to learn about…the Partition of India.  Like some of the other books I’ve talked about, this was something I didn’t know happened, and I want to learn more about it.

Fairy Tales/Mythology:

  1. All of the fairy-tale re-tellings make me want to…read all of the different versions from all over the world. Because it’s interesting to see the different versions, and also to see how the original story is used in the re-telling.  Especially because the story I know tends to be the Disney movie.  There isn’t a specific book in mind, because I could probably do an entire list based on fairy tale re-tellings.
  2. Basically all of the books that are inspired by mythology and stories that aren’t Greek.  Specifically the Middle East and Maori, because those are the first two that come to mind, but in general, any mythology that isn’t Greek is something I want to read more about because it is becoming more common, and that’s cool.

The Cliche And Random:

  1. Reading, in general, makes me want to travel and learn, and even though it’s a great way to do so when actually doing the traveling isn’t an option, reading about it isn’t the same as actually going somewhere and experiencing what it’s like to be somewhere else.
  2. A Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor makes me want to be more creative.  Though any book featuring characters who sing, dance, draw or be creative in some way would work, that one’s the first one that come to mind. I crochet, but when I see creative characters, it jut makes me want to find other creative outlets besides writing and crochet.

Book Review: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

Bound Napoli CoverBook: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

Published November 2004 by Atheneum|184 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Young Xing Xing is bound.  Bound to her father’s second wife and daughter after Xing Xing’s father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed “Lazy One” by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.

But all of this is about to change as the time for the village’s annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family’s money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.

In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of “Beast and Breath,” delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really like fairy tale re-tellings, and I was really intrigued by a Chinese re-telling of Cinderella.  Especially because I loved Cinder.  I liked it, but not as much as I liked Cinder.  However, if you want something a little more historical, and a little less dystopic, this is definitely a good book to check out.

It seems like it’s a pretty straightforward re-telling of Cinderella, and I like that it’s pretty similar to one of the Chinese variations on the Cinderella story.  I do wish the author had deviated from the original story a little more, just because I would have liked to see her do something different with her re-telling of Cinderella.  It’s very clear that it’s a Cinderella re-telling, which I liked, but…I still wanted something slightly different, because if I wanted something that mirrored the original pretty closely, I’d go read the original.

Because of the setting, it’s a slightly different take on the Cinderella story we’re familiar with, partly because of Disney and partly because of the different Roger’s & Hammerstein versions out there (of which the Whitney Houston one is my favorite, but probably because it’s the only one I’ve seen, not counting the Disney version).  It seems like there are more variations on the Cinderella story across different time periods and continents that any other fairy tale out there, and this episode of The History Chicks does a great job at going over all of the different variations.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  It’s a pretty straightforward re-telling of one of the many variations of the Cinderella story, and I love the setting.  I like that it re-tells a version most Americans probably aren’t familiar with, but at the same time, I wanted some sort of twist on the story we all know.

Book Review: The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House On Mango Street CoverBook: The House Of Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Published April 1991 (originally published 1984) by Vintage|110 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros’s greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children, their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, it has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics.

Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong–not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. 

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Like Things Fall Apart, The House On Mango Street was a book I had to read in high school, and even though I sort of remembered the story, there was a lot I had forgotten since then.  I don’t remember how I felt about it when I read it in high school- I’m pretty sure it wasn’t one of the few books I had to read and ended up liking, but as an adult, I really liked it.

I really liked how we get these snapshots of Esperanza’s life over the course of a year.  You get such a good glimpse of what her neighborhood is like, and the expectations that the world has for her.  You see how she wants to break out of that, and how she wants more for herself, even though the people around her might not expect it, or even encourage it.  There were a couple points- some unwelcome kisses and when one of her neighbors gets married- where there could be more to it, but you could also just take it as it was written.

It definitely broke my heart at times, but there were also times where I really felt for Esperanza, and I finished the book feeling confident that things would work out in her favor.  It reminded me of my own childhood, and how different things are now for kids.  There is something timeless about this book, and even though it was published just over 30 years ago, it holds up really well.  It’s still relevant, and totally worth reading, if you haven’t read it.  It’s even worth re-reading as an adult, and I’m actually glad I happened to see it at the library.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t quite love it, just because I wanted to live in Esperanza’s world for a little bit longer, but overall, I’m really glad I picked it up and read it.

Book Review: Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

Some Like It Wicked CoverBook: Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

Published by July 2008 by Avon|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Kincaid Highland #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Some like it dangerous . . .

Highland beauty Catriona Kincaid cares nothing for propriety—or even her own safety—when she storms the grounds of Newgate Prison. Determined to return to Scotland and restore her clan’s honor, she seeks the help of Sir Simon Wescott, a disgraced nobleman and notorious rogue. She is prepared to offer him both wealth and freedom, but she never dreams the wicked rake will be bold enough to demand a far more sensual prize.

Some like it seductive . . .

Simon is shocked to discover the tomboy he met long ago has blossomed into a headstrong temptress. Although he’s sworn off his dreams of becoming a hero, he can’t resist playing knight errant to Catriona’s damsel in distress. Both adventure and peril await them at her Highland home, where they will risk their lives to vanquish her enemies . . . and risk their hearts to discover a passion beyond their wildest dreams.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Romance is one of those genres I always tell myself I’m going to read more of, and yet, it’s one of those genres I never seem to read a lot of.  Which is weird, because, for the most part, I’ve really liked a lot of the romances I’ve read. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for Some Like It Wicked, which turned out to be okay for me.

Catriona definitely is what I’d call strong.  She’s very determined to make sure the family name and the family land is okay, and she’s willing to do what she has to in order to get it back.  She was naive about some things (particularly in regards to Simon), but everything worked out in the end, and it wasn’t actually annoying.  In fact, it made sense for Catriona herself.  She wasn’t as wild and independent as I thought she’d be, but she did seem to be pretty independent by the end of the book.

And Simon…what can I say about Simon?  He definitely redeemed himself by the end of the book, and I actually liked Simon a lot more than I thought, especially where Cat was concerned.

But them together?  I liked them together, but only a little.  They certainly balance each other out, but I didn’t quite feel them as a couple.  They definitely had chemistry, and I wanted to love them together, but I just didn’t.

And it wasn’t as focused on romance as I thought it would be.  It was definitely there, but it felt like it was more about Catriona saving her family than anything else.  It ended super-happy- which is fine, and I pretty much expected that- but…I don’t know, I just wasn’t enthused with the super-happy ending.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I don’t have much to say about Some Like It Wicked.  I get why people really like it/love it but it’s not one of my favorites.  I’d definitely give another one of her books a try, but not anytime soon.

Book Review: Missoula: Rape And Injustice In A College Town by Jon Krakauer

Missoula CoverBook: Missoula: Rape And Injustice In A College Town by Jon Krakauer

Published April 2015 by Doubleday|349 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Missoula, Montana is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.  

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Missoula was a book I heard about last year, and finally picked up this year.  It’s also a book that I’ve put off reviewing, because how do you talk about a book like Missoula?

I got so angry when reading it, and for me, the first 100 pages or so, were really hard to read.  How people listen to it on audio, I don’t know, because I had a hard enough time reading it, much less listening to it.  Still, the graphic descriptions of rape are almost clinical, but it is something to keep in mind if you pick up this book.

I thought the first half of the book was a lot stronger than the second half, just because the second half of the book is a lot of court transcripts, and those, I ended up skimming over.  And I can’t say that I was surprised by how the victims were treated, and that the district attorney’s office decided not to go forward with prosecuting many cases, even when they had reason to, because I wasn’t.  And Kirten Pabst, one of the District Attorneys…her actions were completely horrible, and I was completely horrified by her actions, and that she would go on to be elected District Attorney.

Missoula is an important book, though, and one everyone should read.  There are a lot of small details in the book, and I felt like Krakauer put a lot of work and research into the book.  If you know anything at all about how rape is handled in the U.S., this book might not reveal anything new, but the stories surrounding the women in this book were very moving, and if it opens someone’s eyes and sparks even a few conversations, then I think it’s worth it.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  It was moving and hard to read, but the court transcripts were a little dry and ended up being something I skimmed.  Still, I think it’s a book everyone needs to read, because it deals with a crime that is under reported, and where victims are blamed for what they went through.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Set Outside The U.S.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books Set Outside The U.S.

I really like this topic, because so much of what I read is set in the U.S., and so I tend to talk about the books set in the U.S.  It’s really nice to talk about books that are set in other countries!  These are my top ten books set in countries that aren’t the U.S.

  1. And I Darken by Kiersten White, set in the Ottoman Empire.  This book is such a good book, AND it’s about Dracula…but as a teenage girl.
  2. Where The Street’s Had A Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah, set in Palestine.  It’s about the Israeli-Palestine conflict but on the Palestine-side of things, and that made it really interesting to me.
  3. The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi, set in Afghanistan.  It was uncomfortable to listen to at times, but it also showed what it’s like to not be able to talk to a childhood friend because of they’re a different ethnic group, or to have to leave everyone you know and love behind because you fell for them.
  4. Guardian Of The Dead by Karen Healy, set in New Zealand.  This book draws on Maori mythology, which made Guardian Of The Dead even more of an interesting book.
  5. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, set in Nigeria.  I didn’t realize how much I took for granted until I read this book.  Also, if you haven’t read anything by her, you should!
  6. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, set in Nigeria.  It’s Nigerian folklore and myths and Sunny is a really cool character.  It’s totally worth checking out.
  7. Anna And The French Kiss/Isla And The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, set in France (mostly).  I couldn’t decide which one to do, so I decided to put them both together.  And yes, parts of both books are set in the U.S., but a majority of both books are set in France, and they’re amazing.
  8. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, set in France.  Because assassin nuns in medieval France.  That’s enough reason for me!
  9. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, set in multiple places.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to include, but since all of the books are not set in the U.S., I figured I’d go for all of them.  You have China, France, Africa, the moon…those are all real places, even though the books are re-tellings of different fairy tales.
  10. Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb, set in England.  Because I need a list that has England on it, and I wanted to do something U.K. that wasn’t Harry Potter (but I thought about it).  It’s historical fiction and fantasy and magic, and you can’t go wrong with that.

Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart CoverBook: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Published October 2010 (but originally published in 1958) by Anchor|224 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The African Trilogy #1

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Things Fall Apart was a book I was required to read back in high school, and I randomly decided to pick it up and read it again.  Even though I didn’t love it, I liked it more than I thought I would- and I definitely liked it a lot more as an adult than I did as a high school student.

I really liked seeing Okonkwo’s fall from grace, and how it was so tied to the change of the world that he knew. What your family did was really important (especially to Okonkwo), and he worked really hard for the success he had.  He didn’t want to be like his father, and he didn’t want his father’s life for his children, which I think is something we can all relate to in some way.

The writing was really simple, but in a good way.  It was very straightforward, and I really liked that, because I felt like Achebe got right to the point.  You really see how much European missionaries changed things, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much we’ve lost because of colonization.

Part of why I didn’t love it was because it was depressing.  Which makes sense, given everything Okonkwo experienced and went through, and all of the change that happened.  Okonkwo does have a code that he lives by, and even though I understand why he acts the way he does…it doesn’t mean it’s okay, but I do get it.  At the same time, though, he really must have felt like he was out of options.  And when you think about it in the context of colonization, and how people must have felt, knowing they probably had to assimilate, or else…I really felt for them, because things were fine, until they weren’t.

I did like that you saw how some of the British who came took into account their traditions and customs, and how some didn’t.  You also saw that some of the people from Okonkwo’s village welcomed the missionaries, and how others didn’t.  It was very much shades of grey in this book, and I liked that it was fairly neutral.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I’m not sure what else to say about Things Fall Apart.  I definitely recommend it, because I think it’s an important story.  And I definitely appreciate it a lot more as an adult than I ever did in high school.

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder CoverBook: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Published February 2012 by Knopf|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Wonder #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Wonder is one of those books I’ve heard a lot about, and knew that people really loved, but never got around to reading until now.  I liked Wonder, but not as much as I thought I would.

I really liked the family dynamic, and I really felt for his sister Via.  We don’t get a lot of her, but we see how the attention Auggie gets affects her, and I really liked seeing that.  I’m not sure if I could have handled an entire book from her perspective, but I did like the small bit that we do get in the book.

I also liked how real the characters felt.  How they acted- what with The Plague thing, and the stares and stuff, I can see that happening in real life.  How one of the moms acted was horrible- she photoshopped Auggie out of the class photo, and acted like he didn’t belong in school, just because of how he looks.  And it was really hard to read, because, theoretically, she should know better.  But clearly not, and it makes me wonder if her son acted the way he did because he learned it from her.  In the end, the other kids ended up being pretty okay, except for the one.

There is something I have mixed feelings about, though, and that’s Auggie himself.  I liked that he sees himself as a normal kid, and that he’s not special or extraordinary, just because of how he looks, even though people around him probably think he’s special because of how much he accomplished, and all of the surgeries he’s had to endure.  On the one hand, I liked that the book mentioned the fact that he was born with a cleft palate, which led to a lot of other health issues for Auggie, but didn’t focus too much on it.  But at the same time, I wanted a little more about it, because the book hardly goes into it.

Another issue I had was the fact that the characters seemed a lot older than 10.  The way they talked and acted…it didn’t mesh well with the fact that it’s middle grade.  It was really disorienting, and if 10 year-olds are, in real life, dating the way some of them seem to be dating in this book, I’m a little worried.

The book was also super-positive, which I get, considering the target audience, but it made the book feel too perfect, like nothing gets to Auggie (even though it must), and that everything will work out just fine, no matter what.  It felt too simple, for something that could have had even a little more complexity to it.  It’s not for me to say that Auggie is too well-adjusted, because I’ve never experienced what Auggie has, and I have no idea what it’s like to be in his position.  But it was also something that was a little off-putting, just because I wanted something that seemed a little more realistic.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I get why people loved this book so much, and I do like the message of not judging people because of how they look, and that you should be kind to people.  But it was too simple, and too perfect, and I wanted something a little more complex and something that was a little less perfect.

Book Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Hunger CoverBook: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Published October 2010 by Harcourt Graphia|177 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Riders Of The Apocalypse #1

Genre: YA

Blog Graphic-What It's About

“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?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

So…I really like the idea of an anorexic 17-year-old as Famine, but the actual book?  Not so much.  I wanted to like it a lot more than I did.

Let’s start with what I did like about Hunger.  I really liked the scenes where we see Lisa struggle with her weight and the hold that her Thin voice has on her.  I also found myself liking some of the scenes at the end, where Lisa is Famine, and what it’s like to be in other parts of the world.  With this book, you really are in the mindset of someone who is anorexic, and the book does a really great job at showing that.

But the Famine and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse elements?  Those didn’t work for me at all…mostly because they didn’t make a lot of sense.

So, it seems like Lisa had to become Famine in exchange for Death letting her live, but that just left me with so many questions.  Is that how it works for all of the Horsemen, or just Lisa?  And if that’s how one becomes one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, then how would it work if Death dies?  Lisa has trouble deciding if she wants to live or die, and kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really accepts the post of Famine, and then decides she doesn’t want it, and everything is magically okay because she’s seen how horrible it is that some people have to go without food, and so she decides she needs help with her eating disorder…it is an interesting idea, and it is a different way to show what it might be like to be anorexic.  But to just reject it and go back to her own life, like nothing’s happened?  I wanted from the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse thing.

Because, honestly?  I’m not completely sure what the point of that arc was.  Is it really bringing about the apocalypse, or is it just a tool to highlight different issues people struggle with?  I couldn’t get a sense of the overall purpose of the series with this book, and I really think the book needed more about it, because it definitely felt like something was missing as far as that goes.

And even though the scenes where we see Lisa struggle with anorexia were done really well, something about it felt really cold and clinical to me.  Only one person seemed to pick up on the fact that something was going on with Lisa, and it wasn’t until she said something about it that anything actually happened.  I wish we saw more of Lisa, and the story behind why she became anorexic.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars, just because I think the idea of Famine as a 17-year-old anorexic is a really interesting concept. I think the Horsemen Of The Apocalypse aspect could have been done better (and it was sort of confusing and not explained well), and Lisa as an anorexic could have been less cold.