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Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
I had been looking forward to reading this one for ages. The premise interested me, and I had read enough other reviews stating the book was hard to read, in all the right ways, to make me anticipate seeing for myself.
All the things that seem to have bothered other reviewers didn’t phase me in the least. I think I came at the book from a different angle- I was not looking, precisely, for a supernatural YA novel, I was looking for a new and interesting approach to a serious health condition. Hunger provided a beautifully soul-wrenching view of eating disorders from the POV of a girl who just happens to be Famine. And that is the important thing- the role/power of Famine, while very important to the crisis point and resolution of the novel, is not the novel in of itself. This is less a book about a Horseman (woman?) of the Apocalypse, and more an accounting of a girl’s struggle.
This is also not a book for the squeamish or easily squicked. No punches are pulled. There are some patches that are very rough to read. At the same time, it is handled with a calm, straightforward attention to detail that not only makes the material believable, but really makes an impression on the reader. At the same time, it isn’t preachy, as some books with a Message can get. And it is rare that a book can get me grinning and tearing up at the same time. Kessler took some real hard material and presented it perfectly and accessibly.
That and Kessler’s incarnation of Death? Fantasic.
The supernatural elements were well done and fun as all hell to read. But it is the day to day struggles that were the most compelling to me. I sat down and read the entire book cover to cover. The writing and the story flow well, the plot is sound and well contained, and I am looking forward to reading Rage when it is released.