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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave it to my tween daughter to read...
I gave this book to my 12 1/2 year old daughter to read. She is an avid reader who reads above her age and I thought the book, while targeted at older kids, would not be inappropriate for her. It wasn't a bad decision.

She really enjoyed the book. It wasn't non-stop action but there was enough to keep her turning the pages, and at less than 200 pages she...
Published on June 24, 2010 by Paul Gifford

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great portrayal of eating disorders, mediocre story
Teenager Lisabeth Lewis is anorexic, and she is also Famine, one of the famed Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As she fights against coming to terms with her eating disorder, Lisabeth travels around the world as the Black Rider using her scales to grant and withhold food from people. Each of the Four Horsemen make an appearance, while Lisabeth's mother, father, boyfriend,...
Published on October 19, 2010 by small review


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great portrayal of eating disorders, mediocre story, October 19, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
Teenager Lisabeth Lewis is anorexic, and she is also Famine, one of the famed Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As she fights against coming to terms with her eating disorder, Lisabeth travels around the world as the Black Rider using her scales to grant and withhold food from people. Each of the Four Horsemen make an appearance, while Lisabeth's mother, father, boyfriend, and two best friends round out the story in Lisa's human life.

The idea for this story is phenomenal, but the execution is uneven. The real life part of the story where the reader is taken through Lisabeth's daily routine struggling with the Thin Voice is written exceptionally. The Thin Voice Lisa hears in her head constantly criticizes her and urges her deeper and deeper into anorexia. The inner torment Lisa goes through, combined with the effects her eating disorder is having on her body, is described in a searing and brutally honest manner. Any glamour or control associated with eating disorders is stripped away, leaving behind only the ugly truth. Lisa's friend Tammy's experiences with bulimia are equally vivid and horrifying.

As a novel about eating disorders, Hunger is top notch. I would even go so far as to say this is the most honest and accurate portrayal I've seen of both the physical acts, and, even more importantly, the psychological torment a person with an eating disorder of this magnitude experiences. The author's note at the end of the book explains the author's personal experiences with eating disorders, and this explains the notable honesty and accuracy in the book. This alone is an achievement and makes Hunger a significant book.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book is not up to par. The fantasy elements are poorly developed and, as a result, the plot is convoluted. I'm still not completely sure how the power of the Four Horsemen work, what makes a person suitable for their roles, what their roles are, and how they work in the world. Are they forces of good, evil, both? The personalities of the other Horsemen are equally vague and inconsistent. In many ways, the three other Horsemen are extreme caricatures, which doesn't line up with Lisabeth's personality if she, too, is a qualifying Horseman.

Death, the most fleshed out of the remaining three Horsemen, is a strange mix of modern and old, which could make sense if he didn't feel so gimmicky. His speech was contrived and irritated me. He read like the creation of a teenager's: over-done, poorly written, and trying much too hard to appear "totally cool." The allusions to a certain angsty deceased grunge rock star made this character especially cheesy and eye-roll inducing. He just didn't work for me at all.

The other weak point of the book is the constant messages. The fantasy elements are used to help Lisabeth come to terms with her eating disorder, but because the fantasy elements are so weakly defined, the metaphors fall flat. Despite the tenuous connections, the messages are obvious, *too* obvious, and are really beaten to death. Ultimately, the points are made (and they are good points), but they are not made subtly or effectively.

I wish the author had spent as much time and effort on the fantasy elements of the story as she did on the realistic eating disorder parts. If she had, then this book would have been amazing and a true achievement. Instead we get a superb vignette surrounded by a mediocre and amateurishly written story. I hope the author puts more effort into developing the fantasy aspects in future installments of this series.

This is the first book in a series of, presumably, four books. Even though it's a part of a series, this book can easily be read as a standalone book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Food and Famine Conflict, August 9, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler is an intriguing look at what would happen if a seventeen year old girl suffering from anorexia was deemed one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. If she was in fact, named Famine.

While I found this book a tad too short to really be able to dig into the story, I liked its brisk pace. From the moment Lisa unwittingly accepts the calling as Famine (an event she is sure she dreamed up) to the very end when she finally has a better understanding of what it means to be hungry and to face truly difficult eating decisions daily.

Lisa faces a Thin Voice each day as she decides what not to eat. She is helped in her sickness by her friend, Tammy, who is bulimic. There is one scene in particular, where Lisa (as Famine) watches while Tammy purges. It is horrifying but extremely realistic and scary. Kessler is a strong writer and her impressions of eating disorders and famine itself seem spot-on, both filled with humanity, hurt, and fear. However, I felt like there was a tad too much crammed into this slim novel. Famine, a huge topic all on its own, being pushed against eating disorders, another huge and delicate topic, well, it felt like too much. I couldn't really dig into either of Lisa's personas.

I liked the otherworldly aspect to the story, how Jackie Morse Kessler changed the typical YA eating disorder to something more unique but I needed something with a bit more heft. I also felt the ending was rather abrupt and too easy. However, this book definitely had some elements I enjoyed, particularly the glimpses of the other horsemen and their interactions with Famine. Perhaps there is humanity even in the worst of apocalypses.

Hunger was a quick read. It did not fully satisfy but it honestly didn't let me down either. Lisa definitely learned some important lessons throughout the book, even if they only skimmed the surface at times. Not a terrible book by any means but I certainly would have enjoyed a bit more! It was definitely more of a bite than a full course meal unfortunately but perhaps fitting for its subject matter.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave it to my tween daughter to read..., June 24, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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I gave this book to my 12 1/2 year old daughter to read. She is an avid reader who reads above her age and I thought the book, while targeted at older kids, would not be inappropriate for her. It wasn't a bad decision.

She really enjoyed the book. It wasn't non-stop action but there was enough to keep her turning the pages, and at less than 200 pages she finished it in an afternoon. Though my daughter is not anorexic she felt she could relate to the main character and the struggles she faced, both with herself and in the things she sees as Famine.

I asked my daughter what she took away from the book and she said, "anorexia sucks and I hope I never get it." She said she was also now more aware of the plight of starving people elsewhere, like in Africa. And as another reviewer suspected, my daughter had never heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse so it was educational in that regard as well.

My daughter didn't feel the tone of the book was preachy, in fact, she's going to re-read the book because she enjoyed it and wanted to be sure she didn't miss anything. In her opinion this book is good for 13 and up. There's some swearing ("no f-word but the s-word and b-word") and no sex, just an implication that a Horseman and Horsewoman hooked up.

I think the length of this book will make it more accessible to teens who aren't big readers, and the imaginative plotline will get them to finish it. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed it and came away with understanding of a big problem facing teens (anorexia) and the world (starvation). That sounds like a win all the way around!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't completely work for me, July 4, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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Lisa has anorexia. She has a friend that enables her, parents who don't seem to really notice whats happening to her, and another boyfriend and best friend who are scared for her. One night, when Lisa is near suicidal, Death comes knocking at her door. Die or become Famine, one of the Four Horses of the Apocolypse. Soon Lisa is seeing true sights of Famine around the world. She can use her gift as Famine to make things worse or make things better. Of course this is all used to emphasize what she is going through with her eating disorder and how she feels about herself. This book is a total win if you look at just the parts that focus on Lisa's disorder. The parts at home, and her dealings with family and friends. The things she sees and thinks when she looks in the mirror at her sunken in face and bony shoulders but sees herself as fat. This was a great, realistic portrayal of anorexia and I think Kessler hit the nail right on the head here. I was friends with an anorexic in high school and this was what we closest to her saw. The clumps of hair falling out, the picking at the food but never really eating. This was powerful stuff. However the part I was looking forward to the most was the fantasy part of the story and that was a fail for me. The Four Horseman are never explained with any satisfaction. Even her scales and balance, which appeared to be a theme, were vague and iffy. What could Lisa do with her power? What really was her job? I'm still not really sure. The scenes where Lisa used her Famine powers for good was an enjoyable scene and I would have liked there to have been more of those type of scenes. I just don't think the fantasy mixed with the disorder very well. The book was so thin that to me its not worth the cover price based on that alone. The biggest disappoint is that if the book had been doubled in size, that would have allowed the mythology and the fantasy to be expanded and maybe it would have been a more coherent story throughout. As a former teenager, again this book spoke volumes to me on the subject of the anorexia and as a parent of teenagers now I am reminded to be watchful for signs that my children are going through something like this. Stay involved parents...I wanted to kick both mom and dad for awhile in this one.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Find the balance.", July 5, 2010
By 
Biblioholic Beth (Portland, Oregon USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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Famine - it's what we associate with places far away from us. Places where people lay dying, bellies bloated and children looking like skeletons. Places they make commercials about - you know the ones: "Your donation can feed a child for a month...". But how many of us would think to associate famine with a very real problem much closer to home - anorexia?

"Hunger" is not your typical teen preach-and-learn novel. It is actually a very good story that stands completely on its own, apart from the message contained within. From the opening line, "Lisabeth Lewis didn't mean to become Famine.", it's apparent that this book is different. It is dark, it is funny, and parts are terribly tragic. A few are even so real that it's right there in your face. But these are all things that mark the harsh reality of anorexia, as well as the brilliance of the book itself.

I hesitated to get this, thinking of all they ways such a book could go horribly wrong. The slightest mistake, and the whole thing becomes "fake" - certainly nothing a teen would want to continue with or try and relate to. However, I am glad that I read it. As a parent (who left her teens LONG ago!), it was both an enjoyable story, and an eye-opening lesson that demonstrates how insidious this disease can really be.

This book should be on every library shelf - it's the kind of book that can not only stand on its own merits as a terrific tale, but could potentially reach anyone who struggles with anorexia and/or bulimia - to show them the lies inherent in their fight against their own bodies and minds.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intervention of an Anorexic, October 13, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
I was very intrigued when I read the premise for "Hunger" as I've never read a book with the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. I was looking forward to a refreshing fantasy book with an element never before explored: What if Death came to your door and declared you a Rider? Not just any Rider, but Famine? Unfortunately, the fantasy was as thin as the main character.

Anorexic teenager Lisa attempts to commit suicide and who should intervene? Not her boyfriend, not her best friend, nor her dad. But Death himself. One of the Four Horseman. He's in need a new "Famine" and has selected Lisa. Now, Lisa has to balance her social life (screwed up as it is with an eating disorder out of control) and her responsibilities as Famine. She's to work alongside Death, War, and Pestilence. But can a girl who willingly starves herself be able to watch the suffering of millions who stave through no choice of their own? Can she only take food away from herself or others? Is there a way to help feed those around her?

Now, it might seem like this book is full of Fantasy, but really it is very light on the Fantasy aspect. And that's where it started to fall flat for me. I know I can't judge a book on what I expected, but I was disappointed that the book is billed as a Fantasy book, but it really is a book about an anorexic teenage girl. "Hunger" details the struggles of anorexia and bulimia in painful, honest, and explicit detail. I've never been either so it's always been hard for me to fully understand what one copes with when suffering with an eating disorder. I have watched a close family friend waste away then struggle to overcome her demons. Here, we get up close and personal with Lisa who eats little, dissects what she eats by counting calories and how long it will take to burn the calories off with exercise, brutally examines her body for fat, and suffers from distorted self-image. We also get a glimpse of Lisa's friend, Tammy, who is bulimic. It was hard to watch her gorge herself and then purge.

It was hard to like Lisa for me. She reminded me of my annoying college roommate who always said things like "Do you know how much fat is in that?" or "Be sure to buy the fat-free sour cream." Everything is about calories and how much exercise she needs to burn it off. I know, that sounds totally harsh since she is obviously dealing with a major issue. However, we only meet Lisa at her "rock bottom." Who is going to be at their best at "rock bottom?" It would have been helpful for me to either have met her before that point or to have had flashbacks of a carefree Lisa and see why her friends love her so much. The only flashback we get is of Lisa's first meeting with the "Thin Voice" who tells her she must be thin at all costs.

The fantasy aspect was very light and never really developed. Lisa seemed to just escape into this fantasy world. Her role as Famine is never explained. She just rides out into the world and sees the devastation of famine and those who hunger and cannot be fed as apposed to herself who willfully pushes food away. She interacts with the other Horseman very little. The whole fantasy aspect comes off as a mental shield she puts up around herself to hide from those who accuse her of anorexia.

I so wanted to like this book, but it didn't quite deliver what I was seeking. That aside, "Hunger" still is a great book for Tween and Teen girls. I think that it could do a lot to help young girls read about anorexia and bulimia and see the horrible effects not only to self but to loved ones as well.

Next up Rage
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars review taken from One Book At A Time [...], October 5, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
I have to admit this book was completely original. I loved how the author has taken a biblical reference and made it into something modern. All 4 of the horseman are included in this book, but we only get a real look at Famine (although Death plays a pretty good role as well). By the end of the book I truly wondered if Death choose Lizabeth as Famine because she was anorexic. It was a way to help her see past her problem and see people who were really hunger. I think it helped put her eating disorder in perspective. I liked how the supernatural played into this story. Horses that no one can see, traveling huge distance in the blink of an eye, and the awesome power to create hunger. I thought it was impressive that Lizabeth managed to find away to use her power for good. In turn I thought this created an awesome showdown with War. I was impressed with how the author handled the delicate issue of an easting disorder. It showed Lizabeth vulnerable. I liked how the author was able to show that even those who you think are total control of themselves are likely putting on a show. And sometimes, the ones who care about you the most are saying something you don't want to hear.

So, why the 3 stars? There's two main reasons. First, I really think the book could have been longer. At under 200 pages, I just wasn't satisfied. I know everything ties up nicely, but I wanted more. I think the author could have expanded on some things. Second, I hate nitpicking, but when something still stands out in my mind 2 weeks after I read the book, I have to mention it. I dislike talk about bodily functions. There's a passage describing Lizabeth's struggle to have bowel movement. Now maybe this is a real problem with eating disorders, but I just didn't like the way the author presented it. And, it didn't add to the story. There's also a part with a very detailed description of Lizabeth's friend and her bulimia. While, I do think this helped show something important to Lizabeth, it was just really hard to read (I think this might be partly due to my own aversion to throw-up).

I will be continuing this series though. The author has something to offer her and I want to see were the series goes!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars very realistic portrayal of eating disorders, September 15, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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The whole idea of Famine mixed with anorexia is fabulous. The concept of someone starving herself on purpose being forced to see people starving because they have no choice really pulled me into this story, and I couldn't wait to see how the author was going to tackle it.

I thought Kessler did a fantastic job with the eating disorder aspect of things. It felt real, especially with the gory details we get in certain scenes. Lisa's `Thin Voice' strikes me as something a real anorexic would hear in her own head, and drive her to do things she really shouldn't. Such as not eat, or exercise herself into the ground. I also found Tammy's scene in the bathroom to be incredibly powerful. Yeah, it was gory and disgusting, but it also shows exactly what bulimia is. There's nothing glamorous about it.

Kessler also did a great job showing Lisa's motivations for starving herself, given her home life. Her interactions with her friends was also realistic and believable. Though they try to help her, Lisa doesn't see that she has a problem because she can't see herself as anything but fat. And, if she were truly anorexic, she says, "I'd be thin." Very powerful.

Unfortunately, the fantasy aspect wasn't as compelling. I never got a complete sense of what Lisa's job as Famine was supposed to be. She gets no instruction, and ends up causing both misery and relief. Her symbol of office is the scales, but she never really uses them. The bible states how the scales will be used during the apocalypse, but what about before? I would have liked to know a lot more about that.

The conclusion had me torn. On the eating disorder side of things, it was incredibly realistic and well-done. On the Famine side of things, I was confused. I didn't quite understand why she made the choice she made, especially after discovering what she could do in her role as Famine. Plus, this seems to be a complication for the next book in the series, which is about War.

If you're looking for a realistic view on eating disorders and the havoc they can wreak, then this is your book. But if you're looking for a solid marriage of Famine and anorexia, well, this doesn't quite do it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is like a delicious appetizer, you will want more, August 5, 2010
By 
Jadecat (Lake Orion, MI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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I could not wait to get a hold of this book, I mean really, a story of an anorexic teenage girl all of a sudden becoming Famine, one of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I read it, and it did not disappoint. First off, this is not a book glorifying anorexia or bulimia in any way. I will not hesitate to give it to my teenager to read as eating disorders stem from an inner psychological problem and reading this book will not cause psychological issues.

Back to the book, I think the author did a top notch job in describing and articulating the feelings of Lisa, the anorexic teenage girl. It seemed quite realistic and genuine. You assume she gets her eating issues from her mother, but that relationship isn't explored too deeply. Lisa is shocked to find out she has been chosen to be Famine, instead thinking it is a dream at first. She is the only one who sees the magic scales and her black steed in the garden. She reluctantly embraces her new position and over time becomes a stronger person because of it. Lisa transitions between being herself and being Famine, and those parts are written excellently and clearly. The story is always moving along and keeps you interested.

This is a short book, under 200 pages, and all that does is leave you wanting a little more information. I would have loved more detail about Death and Pestilence and how the whole Horsemen of the Apocalypse worked. Still, that wasn't the main theme of the book, but more about Lisa coming to terms with her illness.

Overall, a great, short read. Plus, this isn't an overdone topic at all (like wizards or vampires), so it is a breath of fresh air in that sense.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far better than I thought it'd be, June 29, 2010
This review is from: Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
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When I first saw the slender volume in my hands, I couldn't help but wonder if this book could live up to all of the story it was boasting. It more than lived up to it, but surpassed what I expected it to be.

Lisa has a problem. She's fat. Or at least, that's what the little voice, the Thin Voice keeps telling her. So Lisa spends her days calculating her every bite & exercising to counteract any unwanted calories that she consumes. When the entity Death comes to Lisa during a suicide attempt & makes her into Famine, Lisa is confused about what she is ultimately expected to do. With her boyfriend & ex-best friend bugging her about her eating problems, the horsewoman War threatening her existence & her friend Tammy enabling Lisa's eating problems, Lisa needs to figure out exactly who she is. What she doesn't know is that becoming Famine might be the best thing that ever happened to her.

If you like stuff like "Wicked Lovely" & the Holly Black series, you'll love this book. It has a healthy dash of dark urban fantasy in it, but the main focus of the book is on Lisa's anorexia. I loved that this was the book's main focus & I like the detail that the author put into it. The afterword at the end of the book has the author confessing her own history with an eating disorder, so you can tell that the author really put her all into this book.

The author manages to tackle the whole anorexia disorder with style & empathy. She manages to get her point across about eating disorders without going over the top or getting preachy. Lisa as a character was incredibly vulnerable & at several parts in the novel I could really empathize with her troubles. She's a character that you really can root for & hope that she gets the help she needs. And if you were wondering- no worries, this isn't an "everything gets 110% fixed by the end" type of book.

My only real complaint is that I really would have liked for a little more detail in the book. Much like its heroine, the book just really needed to be a little meatier & fleshed out. The book's short length does work for it, but I would have liked to have had just a little more about Lisa's background, her relationship with her family & friends, as well as a little bit more about the whole Four Horsemen stuff.

The author leaves enough to where she could write more books in this universe if she so chose, which I hope she'll do. This book could have been a little better, but it is very well done & I hope that she'll continue this into a series with a book about each Horseman/woman.
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Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse)
Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse) by Jackie Kessler (Paperback - October 18, 2010)
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