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.

Audio Book Review: Perfect by Natasha Friend

Perfect CoverBook: Perfect by Natasha Friend, narrated by Danielle Ferland

Published January 2013 by Recorded Books|Run Time: 4 hours, 22 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Isabelle Lee has a problem, and it’s not just Ape Face, her sister, or group therapy for an eating disorder, or even that her father died and her mother is depressed and in denial. It’s that Ashley, the most popular girl in school, is inviting Isabelle to join her at lunch and at sleepovers at her house, and this is presenting Isabelle with a dilemma. Pretty Ashley has moved Isabelle up the social ladder, but is it worth keeping the secret they share? Caught in the orbit of popularity and appearances, Isabelle must navigate a world with mixed messages, false hopes, and potentially harmful turns, while coping with her own flailing family and emotions. The author brings a depth of characterization, humor, and a real adolescent’s voice to this multileveled story about the desire to be perfect in an imperfect world.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I randomly picked this one up from the library recently, but it was an okay listen for me.

One: I wasn’t expecting Isabelle to be so young- granted, she’s 13, but I assumed that she would be a lot older. Still, it’s nice to see a book focused on a middle school character, instead of one in high school, which seems to be a lot more common.

Two: I didn’t feel like Isabelle moved up the social ladder at all.  Sitting at the popular for all of two weeks…we don’t see much change in Isabelle’s social status as result, and she’s more on the periphery than anything else.

Three: At one point Ashley is bleeding from her mouth after we see both girls purge.  Nothing happens with this, and it seemed like a random thing to bring up, only for Ashley to be perfectly fine.  It’s explained away as “it happens sometimes, it’s no big deal.”  I really expected Ashley to end up in the hospital or something.

Four: I did like seeing how Isabelle changed over the course of the book.  By the end of the book, she was starting to deal with the death of her father, and she got to the point where she went over a day without throwing up, and I like seeing that change in her.

Five: Danielle Ferland seem to narrate a teenage girl pretty well, but there was nothing about her performance that really stood out to me.  I wouldn’t avoid any books narrated by her, but I’m also not running out to see what else she’s narrated.

Six: This has more to do with the actual CD’s I checked out with the library, but there were a couple tracks on the last disk that were a little funky, and went super fast, so there are a few minutes I ended up missing…including the very end.  I should probably say something when I return it.

Seven: Isabelle goes to group therapy, and Trish wants to see her individually…but it seems like no one ever mentions anything to Isabelle’s mom.  Really?  You want to see her more, and yet you only ask Isabelle, a 13-year-old girl, about it?  That seems a little weird to me.

Eight: It seemed pretty open-ended, with not a lot of resolution, which is fine, but…I don’t know.  I think I wanted more of a conclusion.  Or even a longer book, because it wasn’t much over 4 hours, and maybe things could have been a little more resolved then they were in the book.

Nine: Her dad’s death was super-vague.  She only mentioned he died unexpectedly, and that he was sick but they didn’t know about it, so that was really weird.  Did the mom know, and not give her kids more information, or did everyone just get taken off-guard.  There was just something off about his death.

Ten: How she treated her little sister.  I’m an only child so sibling relationships are completely foreign to me, but I thought Isabelle treated her younger sister (by three years) sort of mean.

Eleven: The fact that a 13 year-old and ten-year-old are making themselves pizza from scratch and mac and cheese and have to feed themselves because their mom still cries herself to sleep at night and randomly sleeps during the day…they weren’t completely on their own, and their mom didn’t completely check out.  But they were still on their own a lot, which is weird because their mom is a college professor teaching a couple classes. The mom also seems to constantly grading papers (understandable, given it’s English she teaches).  And I’m sure the mom has meetings and office hours, but there was something off about the mom too.  Besides grieving, something didn’t fit quite right.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I wanted to like it more, but it was just okay.