Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler


Title: Hunger

Author: Jackie Morse-Kessler

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Edition/Pages: Kindle Edition

Rating: ✭✭✭

Short & Sweet Synopsis: Lisa is a teenager who has enough problems on her plate dealing with an eating disorder she can’t admit she has, when Death shows up on her doorstep telling her that she is the new Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler, is a book that I had never heard of prior to joining the 2013 Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge (MIA) hosted by Opinions of a Wolf. This book, along with its sequel, Rage, are both on the list of approved books for the challenge, and the series sounded like an interesting idea, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

As it turns out, the series does have a novel concept, or at least I thought so; in her afterword, Morse Kessler notes that books along these same lines have been written before, so perhaps it is only new to me. In any case, it’s a concept not too overdone. The basic premise is this: a teenage girl with an eating disorder is appointed to be the new Famine (i.e., one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse).

This is a book intended for young adults, so perhaps I was reading too much into it, but I thought that Morse Kessler made some interesting social commentary in the series. In this book, a bulimic teenager becomes Famine; in the next, Rage, a teenage girl who cuts, becomes War. And so on and so forth. Although I’m not entirely sure what the final two books in the series are going to bring, I do know that not every main character is going to be female, so boys can read it too! To get back to the point, I like the implication that maybe the “apocolypse” is at hand, when girls have to starve themselves to have a sense of fitting in, and teenagers are so repressed that they feel the need to take a razor blade to their own bodies to get their emotions out.

“She can be brutal, too,” Death added, his voice still cold and yet somehow chipper. “Some people like quick deaths. War isn’t one of them. She likes to draw it out. Slowly. And rather painfully.”

My only criticism of this book is that the writing is perhaps too simplistic. I am a huge fan of YA literature, and YA books do, in fact, make up some of my favorite series, but this book was a little too straightforward for me. Then again, I’ve always liked plotlines that have what would be by some people’s standards considered convoluted, so who knows. However, the concept of the book is good enough that I would suggest reading it anyway. What it does very well is get you inside the head of someone with an eating disorder, which I suppose is the entire point of this challenge. There is an entire character, of sorts, called the Thin Voice, who talks to Lisa, twisting around everything she does to make her feel weak and incompetent. Definitely the best component of the story, in my opinion. Except the character of Death. I loved Death. But to get back to the issue, Hunger is a quick read for sure – I finished it in probably a total of four hours – but it’s a good way to kill some time in a doctor’s office or waiting for class to start (my reading time of choice). If you’ve got a little free time, grab a copy from the library (I downloaded a library copy onto my Kindle), and let me know what you think!



  1. Congrats on your first MIA read!

    I agree that Hunger is definitely predictable to a certain degree but it is also definitely meant to be YA and the writing reflects that. In my list of suggested reads to get people going, I tried to give suggestions from various genres so everyone can find something they might like. You of course are always welcome to read from off the list, so long as you feel the book fits the basic criteria of not demonizing those with mental illness 🙂

    I think what makes this book work really well for that is just what you pointed out: the Thin voice and hearing it helps the reader get inside the head of those with an eating disorder and on some level feel how it feels.

    Btw, I liked Rage better than Hunger. I’m excited to see what you think of it!

    1. That is true. I guess I’ve just been spoiled with some particularly deep YA books. It was definitely worth reading though. And yeah, I thought of a few others that I could possibly add to my list, but honestly I don’t have that much time to go book researching at the moment (unfortunately). In any case, I found a ton on your list that I really want to read anyway, so I don’t feel the need to go looking around too much. Maybe for next year’s challenge!

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