Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Series: Horsemen of the Apocalypse #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publication Date: October 18, 2010
“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? (from Goodreads)
When I first heard of this book what really caught me was the original and clever premise: an anorexic girl is chosen to become the new Famine. I was also curious as to how Kessler would deal with the issue of anorexia since this is a young adult novel and many of her readers may be dealing with some sort of eating disorder. What I found was an incredibly sensitive, real and heart-wrenching story of a girl named Lisabeth and her struggle with starving herself. I was completely engrossed in the story; I really connected to Lisa and found she was so well portrayed I thought she could have been a friend of mine and I was getting a secret glimpse into her life.
Initially I was more interested in the fantasy part of the story, the part about the horsemen. Eventually I realized that it wasn't as important as Lisa's personal journey and her role as Famine would play a part in helping her with her disorder. I think anyone can relate to Lisa since I'm sure everyone has dealt with self-esteem and/or body image issues. I think this book sends a great message to girls who are dealing with these kinds of problems but it doesn't necessarily paint a rosy picture of a girl sailing through her recovery. It's real and raw and I loved that Kessler didn't shy away from the frightening parts of it.
There isn't a huge cast. There's Lisa and her best friend Tammy, who also suffers from an eating disorder, bulimia. I don't have any real experience with these serious issues but I felt that both girls were portrayed pretty convincingly and I really believed their different stories. There's also James, Lisa's boyfriend, who notices something's wrong but doesn't know how to help her. A character I really enjoyed was that of Death, who is part of Lisa's horseman life. He's eerie and weird and says some pretty intriguing things. I hope to see more of him in the future books.
I thought the ending was great. It was just right to provide closure to the story but also not to leave the reader feeling too sad for Lisa. I think it gives hope and encouragement to anyone reading it who is suffering from the same thing.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's quite short but packs a major punch. I think it would be especially great for young women or anyone who is interested in reading about real teenager issues. The next book in the series is Rage and will be out next year. A-