"Hunger" by Jackie Morse Kessler (YA Debut Author)

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? (from the book jacket)

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler has been on my radar ever since I saw the book's gorgeous, symbolic cover peering up at me from the www.bn.com Teen pre-order page. Once I clicked on the image and read the novel's stunning synopsis, I knew this book would be a Day One Buy. Fellow Bookworms, let me tell you: This book was worth the wait.

I love the way Kessler talks about tough issues facing teens such as self-abuse in both this novel and her upcoming sequel, Rage (coming April 18, 2011). In Hunger, the girl who takes up the mantle of Famine is anorexic, and the book focuses on her struggle with the disease. You really see inside Lisa's mind and understand her fears and fixation on staying thin. Kessler also gives Lisa a "Thin Voice," that voice in the back of your head that always tells your every fault. Rage will focus on the horseman War and deal with a girl who is a cutter. Portions of proceeds from both books go to organizations that focus on these disorders. Kessler manages to talk about these issues in a way that doesn't preach and will really appeal to readers. It's a book that could be picked up for fun or enjoyed in a classroom. I like the fact that there's a paranormal story running parallel to the issues of self-abuse, which will open the book to more readers than one solely focusing on the disorder would.

The paranormal aspect of the novel is just as strong. I loved the fact that Famine was secretly anorexic and struggled with food. What a brilliant move on Kessler's part! It gives Lisa more to balance and struggle with, and Famine is all about the balancing act (one reason the scales on the cover are so symbolic). I also loved the interaction with the horseman Death. What a cool character. He could have been all grim and creepy the way Death is normally portrayed, but instead, has a laid-back, rocker-vibe going for him. I always loved his appearance and wished he was in the book more. I'm excited to read his book when the time comes.

If you love paranormal books and want something that deals with tougher issues than the normal light read in the genre, Hunger is definitely worth putting on your radar. It's only 177 pages, so it's a fast read that you can fit in between the million titles still sitting on your to-be-read list.