Written by: Jackie Morse Kessler
Released: October 18, 2010 by Harcourt Graphia
Summary: “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?
I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought that the content matter was taken into a fresh light and the way that it was related back to famine was ingenious. I mean, having a girl who is inflicting her own personal famine onto herself only to have her unintentionally inflict it upon others as the apocalyptic horseman famine, is something that really makes you think about life.
Thankfully I’ve never had problems with self-inflicted eating disorders but I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that made everyone think that I was bulimic since I couldn’t get food into my stomach. From that, I could relate to some of what Claire went through (though on a different level – I didn’t want to be throwing up due to eating).
Claire as a character some someone who you knew was completely and utterly broken. From the small glimpses that you got into her family life, you could tell that her father was emotionally unavailable and drowned his sorrows in alcohol while her mother was just unavailable and never really at home due to overcompensating for something in her life. Poor Claire was just caught in the cross-fire of life.
Another thing was that she found herself in the company of a completely toxic friend Tammy who not only aided in her not-eating but justified and praised it.
The psychological aspects of this book were fantastic and they really brought to life the struggle that people can feel when dealing with an eating disorder. The inner Thin voice in Lisa’s head really added to the internal struggle and it gave a voice to the doubts and skewed perspectives.
One thing that I liked with this book was the ending. I loved how Lisa sought out help and was taking her recovery one step at a time – very realistic – and the sudden battle with War and how the outcome made Lisa realize that she wanted to live was very reflective on the internal battle that rages within people. I also thought that it was very clever how Lisa sees just how not in control her friend Tammy was of her bulimia and how it wasn’t as glamorous and enviable as she first thought. That scene really shows just how brutal it is and the damage that it does to a person’s body; and how they just don’t care as long as they’re thin. It also shows just how little a friend Tammy was to Lisa the entire time.
Another aspect of this book is just how gritty it is with the details. I’ll admit that at times I would read a sentence and then be completely taken aback on what I had just read purely for the fact that I had never read something like that in any book let along a YA one. But this no-holds barred way of writing is what really makes this book something special. I mean, anyone could have written about the horsemen of the apocalypse, but the way that it was related to, and the fashion of which is was, to eating disorders – the complete lack of line to cross – really made it great.
I would suggest this book to anyone who has ever had an eating disorder, who struggles with their self-image, or who just wants to read something that’s not all about the trivial pursuits of high school (paranormal or not). This is a fantastic book for the modern age and it tackles a topic which is usually left in the dark because it’s too hard to write about.
So, I’m giving this book a 10/10 and I can’t wait to read more from this author, especially the books which will follow this one in the series.